San Antonio to Combat ‘Climate Emergency’ with New Action Plan

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Climate Action Plan San Antonio
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One of America’s highest Latino-populated cities now has a strategy to address the climate crisis.

Earlier this month, the San Antonio (64% Latino) City Council passed Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) by a 10-1 vote. It outlines objectives that will aim to reduce the city’s greenhouse emissions by 2050 and achieve climate equity for all populations.

This plan follows in suit with many cities across the U.S. that are taking personal responsibility for its role in the climate crisis.

“We declare that we will not be bystanders,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, according to the Rivard Report. “In no simpler terms, here and around the world, we are in a climate emergency.”

What Does the Climate Action Plan Say?

The main goal is to make the city and its businesses carbon neutral in the next 30 years.

While it vows to work on this issue, the plan does not provide concrete policy steps or regulations to reach that goal.

It does outline six key strategies city officials will use:

San Antonio Climate Action Plan
Photo by Scott Ball, The Rivard Report
  • Increase carbon-free energy
  • Reduce building energy consumption
  • Advance the circular economy
  • Increase circularity
  • Promote biodiversity and healthy ecosystems
  • Educate and enable

Some local climate activists and business leaders feel that the plan, while necessary, doesn’t do enough to address the major issues—such as the city’s coal plants—at hand, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Still, many believe this is a step in the right direction.

“So, is the CAAP incomplete? Yes. Could it be done better? Yes. But are these sufficient reasons not to adopt the CAAP today? Absolutely not,” Dr. Olufemi Osidele, co-chairman of the plan’s steering committee, said. “That would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

How Will The Climate Action Plan Impact the Community?

To reach carbon neutrality by 2050, San Antonio officials would have to take significant steps, most of which would completely alter the city.

Mainly, they would have to reduce nearly all fossil fuels in energy production and transit. The other alternative is investing in technology that can protect the atmosphere from carbon emissions.

Several challenges pose a threat to achieving real community impact.

Technological solutions may not yet be available to implement some of the plan’s strategies. Cost is also a factor due to associated policies, programs, and technologies. Changing people’s behaviors to new ways of traveling, buying, and acting also takes time.

Still, plan creators are confident the plan will benefit the community.

“San Antonio’s history of successful sustainable initiatives provides a solid platform from which to springboard forward-thinking advancements that will continually improve the quality of life, security, and economic vitality of our community,” according to the plan document.

Why Should Climate Change be Important to Latinos?

San Antonio contains the fourth-largest Latino population in the U.S.

More, its people are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Last September was the hottest on the city’s record.

These kinds of changes can impact everything from expensive energy bills to harmful environmental exposure to extreme weather events.

What’s worse?

Latinos disproportionally experience the impacts of climate change — in spite of their consumption being lower than their white peers.

However, CAAP does address current, systemic inequities people of color in San Antonio face.

greenhouse gas emissions
GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Emissions

“The ethical framework grounding the CAAP is a focus on Climate Equity,” the report states. “It acknowledges that San Antonio’s history has produced social inequities that, if unaddressed, will worsen with climate change.”

While there is still much work ahead, city officials are confident that this is the first step to a safer, cleaner future.

“Moving forward, we’ll work diligently to implement each and every item found in this plan,” Nirenberg said. “[CAAP is a] living document [that] won’t have any time to collect any dust.”

Editor’s Notes:

  • Pictures in this article and on social media provided by The Rivard Report, taken by Bonnie Arbittier and Scott Ball.
  • This article is part of a collaboration between Salud America! and the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) program at UT Health- San Antonio. To find out if you are TILTed due to exposure to everyday foods, chemicals, or drugs, take a self-assessment or learn more about TILT.

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