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Oceanside taking steps to bend arc of global warming

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is looking to bend the arc of rising global temperatures by reducing city greenhouse gas.

Funding by the San Diego Foundation and a work agreement with CivicSpark will minimize city costs to conduct a baseline study that will guide the city to set future reduction goals.

“The goal is to mitigate climate change and bend the curve (of rising global temperatures),” Russ Cunningham, city senior planner, said.

Prior city greenhouse gas emission counts completed in 2011 looked at 2005 emissions and found single vehicle transportation and electricity use to be the biggest residential causes of city greenhouse gas.

Water and electricity treatment and lighting were the top city government causes of emissions.

Data is now being collected on 2013 emissions and compared to 2005 counts. Mathematical calculations will then estimate a 1990 count that reduction plans will be measured against.

The data will also show where the city is trending in increases and decreases.

Since initial counts were completed there are some factors that have potentially lessened city greenhouse gas. Enhanced fuel efficiency standards, the Sprinter commuter rail and a slower economy prompting less vehicle and electricity use may have had a positive effect.

The city wastewater treatment cogeneration facility, and the replacement of LED luminars in city streetlights are also anticipated to be positive factors in reducing emissions.

Factors that may have caused city emissions to increase since last count are population and housing growth, and an expansion in hospitality and other industries.

The statewide goal is to reduce emissions to the 1990 baseline by 2020.

The impacts of global warming caused by greenhouse gas are severe risks of drought, fire, disease sparked by warmer climates, rise in sea level and flooding.

Since human causes of greenhouse gas are known and make up 97 percent of all greenhouse gas, reduction can be strategized.

Cunningham said studies would identify causes of emissions and help the city hone in on areas it can affect.

“It helps us know what we have the wherewithal to do, and what we don’t,” Cunningham said. “Regulating vehicle emissions is done at the federal and state level.”

He added a lot could be done at the city level.

Cunningham said city reduction efforts could improve city systems and practices, and encourage residential best practices through education and sharing local success stories.

The Planning Commission approved city staff moving forward with data collection and putting together a reduction strategy in January.

The cost of developing the emissions inventory is $6,000 with CivicSpark providing discounted services at $18 an hour, which usually cost upwards of $63 an hour.

The San Diego Foundation funded $5,000 of the study, further reducing the city’s costs. Findings of the study and a climate action plan to set reduction targets and monitor progress will be presented to the City Council in late March for direction on how to proceed.