City Council to vote on climate change plan Thursday

Environmental activists worry plan keeps door open for coal

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio City Council will vote whether to adopt a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan on Thursday that would aim for carbon neutrality by 2050.

The plan is the result of nearly two years of work following the council voting in June 2017 to support the Paris Climate Agreement. It focuses on strategies for how to both combat climate change and also prepare for its effects.

RELATED: What to know about the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan before City Council votes

The city's chief sustainability officer called the plan a living document and said it is not the "end-all."

"We could put anything into this plan, but unless we actually implement it, unless we actually adopt it, we're not going to be able to make progress," said Chief Sustainability Officer Douglas Melnick.

There have been sticking points along the way. Greg Harman with the Sierra Club worries the plan leaves the door open to the continued CPS Energy use of fossil fuels.

"But when it comes to CPS Energy, I think what the community says is just 'no coal,'" Harman said.

The plan mentions an "aggressive focus on eliminating coal sources" as a mitigation strategy. However, CPS Energy's two coal plants produce almost 18.3% of its current generating capacity. The utility says the plants could last through 2047 and 2060 respectively, and there's no current plan to retire them early.

Despite his concerns, Harman also recognizes there are still opportunities in the plan going forward.

"This is an open invitation to San Antonio to come in and make this their own," Harman said.

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