San Luis Obispo County hopes to make itself a leader in fighting the emissions blamed for global climate change.
Planners are drafting an action plan to reduce so-called greenhouse gas emissions in the county. These emissions, such as carbon dioxide, are blamed for causing heat to build up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The county will hold a community workshop on the plan from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the County Government Center, 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.
Planners will outline the plan and seek public input, said Chuck Stevenson, manager of the long-range planning team.
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The largest source of gas emissions in the county — 39 percent — comes from vehicles. Industry and commercial businesses are the next leading contributors, Michael Boswell, a Cal Poly city planning professor, told the county Planning Commission on Thursday.
Much of the effort is to focus on reducing car trips by encouraging the use of public transportation and other means.
Retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient is another opportunity. Three-quarters of the county’s 117,000 homes were built before 1990, when energy-efficiency standards were lower, Stevenson said.
Climate action plans consist of determining a baseline of current emissions along with goals for reductions.
Reaching those goals is the hardest part because they are all voluntary and require a long-term commitment, Boswell said.
Commissioners John Irving and Tim Murphy said keeping greenhouse gas emission programs voluntary and affordable should be the main goals.
San Luis Obispo County is off to a better start than most communities in the nation, Boswell said.
The county has good public transportation, has high rates of rooftop solar installation and is the site of two proposed large-scale commercial solar plants on the Carrizo Plain.
The county is also one of only two in California to have had a detailed climate adaptation study done. It looked at the various impacts climate change will have on the county and how to prepare for them.
The study was headed by the Local Government Commission, an organization that advocates centralized community and economic planning based on Ahwahnee Indian principles.
“San Luis Obispo County will be setting the marker for other communities,” Boswell said.
Environmentalist and government watchdog Eric Greening of Atascadero urged county planners to concentrate on reducing emissions rather than adaptation.
“We’ve got to stop being so full of ourselves,” he said. “We haven’t the faintest idea what we are going to have to do to adapt to climate change. We’ve never been here before.”
Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.