Draft San Antonio Climate Plan Falls Short, Lets CPS Energy Off the Hook

SAN ANTONIO— On Thursday, January 24, the Climate Action SA coalition held a press conference to call for strengthening the draft San Antonio climate plan, which will be officially released to the public on Friday, January 25. The plan lacks near-term goals and gives San Antonio’s biggest polluter – CPS Energy – a pass on taking meaningful action.

The draft plan sets a goal for the San Antonio community to be carbon neutral by 2050, and envisions gradual annual emissions reductions to reach that goal. The science is clear though – significant reductions are needed in the coming decade to preserve a livable climate. The draft offered by the City would not reduce carbon emissions on a time scale that is quick enough to assure compliance with the goals in the Paris Climate Agreement – to keep average global temperature increase to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

“We need rapid, steep greenhouse gas reduction goals, both long-term and short-term, not a 30-year out goal with no clear way to get there,” said Briauna Barrera of Public Citizen. “By 2050, the people currently in power will be gone and it will be young people that will be forced to suffer and bear the effect of climate crisis because the needed and necessary action wasn’t taken today.”

The Climate Action SA continues to call for rapid reductions and a clear timeline for implementation, with strong short and medium-term goals:

  • closing CPS Energy’s coal-burning power plants by 2025,
  • ending the use of all fossil fuels for producing electricity at CPS Energy by 2030;
  • achieving net zero city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, and
  • achieving net negative city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (meaning the city would become a carbon sink).

“In order to truly realize its potential and meet our obligations to help steady a increasingly destabilized climate system, we first have to name the real villain given cover in its pages,” said Greg Harman of the Sierra Club. “For the most part, CPS Energy goes unnamed and unblamed despite being the most egregious climate polluter in San Antonio. Our elected leaders must stop allowing CPS Energy to dictate what reductions they are willing to make and force them to get in line with the reality of global warming and the rapid reductions climate scientists around the world are calling us to.”

Warming beyond the 1.5 °C level will result in climate impacts that are extremely difficult to adapt to. In the San Antonio area, the impacts of climate change come in the form of longer heat waves with more days over 100 °F, more severe droughts, more more wildfires and more frequent flooding. These impacts have already been observed and will continue to worsen. Just how severe they get depends on how quickly emissions are reduced and then eliminated.

Peter Bella with March for Science – SA and a member of the Steering Committee for the city’s planning process says, “We will continue to pressure the city and CPS Energy for an aggressive plan. The full implementation of a strong plan is necessary for San Antonio’s future, and for the safety and health of our children.”

See: Video from press conference.

The Climate Action SA coalition consists of 30+ nonprofit organizations working together to support the creation and implementation of a robust climate action and adaptation plan for San Antonio, developed and implemented with strong community engagement. The coalition has a strong focus on protecting San Antonio’s most vulnerable communities from extreme weather and pollution and ensuring that all members of the community can benefit from climate solutions.