After several months of sometimes acrimonious debate, San Antonio City Council today is expected to approve a thirty year plan to fight climate change, which will place the Alamo City within the guidelines of the Paris Accords on Global Warming, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Downtown Councilman Roberto Trevino, who is one of the major supporters of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, says this is a major first step to prepare San Antonio for the world we will inhabit in the coming decades, which many researchers say will be warmer and drier than today.
"I think this will pass, I think there is a lot of work to do, but this is just the first step in a large, large journey for the city," he said.
The program is being presented as a starting point.' In fact, most of the 'mandates, which were originally included in the plan, like a goal of having all gasoline powered vehicles off of the city's streets by 2050, have been removed, in favor of 'goals.' For example, the City will now 'encourage the use of electric vehicles' by expanding the number of charging stations in San Antonio, and by converting the city's fleet of vehicles from fossil fuels to electric.
Trevino rejects predictions from the pro business group Texas Public Policy Foundation, made at several town hall meetings over the past several weeks, that the result of implementation of the climate plan will be that residents' electric bills will 'double' by 2050. Trevino says the plan involves using less electricity due to tougher building codes, roof improvements, and other measures.
"We can actually reduce people's utility bills," he said. "Utility consumption can decrease by being smart about how we build things in the city."
In fact, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups have also blasted the plan for allowing CPS Energy to continue burning coal for electricity generation into the 2050s.
Supports of the climate plan say more and more, communities are being judged on how they are responding to the threat of climate change, with bond rating agencies taking that into consideration, as well as major employers studying a city's climate plans before deciding whether to locate jobs in the city.
Trevino says this plan will set San Antonio up as a leader in what will be one of the major urban priorities of the coming several decades.
"This is just the beginning," he said. "We need to recognize there is so much more that needs to be done, including recognizing how other cities can be partners in this."