By Miriam Raftery
November 7, 2014 (San Diego)—The County’s climate action plan lacks teeth to assure that greenhouse gas emission goals will be met, California’s 4th District Court of Appeal has ruled. The Appellate Court upheld a San Diego County judge’s ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club argued that the county’s reliance on voluntary measures and lack of clear deadlines were not enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the targeted amounts by 2020. The Court also noted that the County rejected mitigation proposed by the Sierra Club without valid reasons.
Charlene Ayers, a backcountry issues blogger with the Ranter’s Roost, has asked the County if the decision might mandate a redo of the General Plan Update, since the climate change plan was adopted as part of the 2011 General Plan update which affects land use planning in the County’s unincorporated areas.
County Land Use/Environmental Planner Eric Lardy responded that the county is currently reviewing the court decision and coming up with next steps over the next several months.
A prior court decision in a lawsuit filed by Cleveland National Forest against the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) over the county’s regional transportation plan similarly found that it was not adequate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Duncan McFetridge, spokesman for the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, had this to say about this week’s Appellate Court findings regarding the County’s climate change plan.
“With regard to the politics of climate stabilization in San Diego County, George Orwell’s quote is definitive; `Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind,’” the environmental leader says. “To be deceitful on climate change progress is worse than climate change denial because it gives the public the illusion that we are heading in the right direction when we are actually making things much worse.”
He provided a graph on total emissions showing a gap between emission reduction targets and SANDAG’s optimistic projections. “The GAP graph proves that the entire region is headed in the wrong direction –towards a brick wall,” McFetridge concludes.
Instead of embracing “sprawl and freeways” he says, “We must begin investing in transit and good city building now, before it is too late.”