As world leaders gather in Paris for climate change talks, the issue came into sharp focus in San Diego today.
A bold environmental strategy for reducing greenhouse gases and boosting mass transit is gaining momentum at City Hall.
But skeptics say it doesn't pass reality checks, and figures to affect household budgets while requiring adjustments to lifestyles and business operations.
Backers who crowded a City Council Environment Committee hearing Monday said San Diego needs to keep up with efforts in other communities that already have adopted similar strategies.
"The question isn't whether we are being too ambitious,” said Nicole Capretz, executive director of the Climate Action Campaign. “The question is whether we are being ambitious enough, and how soon can we implement this vision."
That vision calls for 100 percent reliance on clean energy and a 50 percent shift to mass transit within 20 years – goals that have raised a lot of eyebrows.
Meantime, given scientific projections of how climate change has altered weather patterns and nature itself, some wonder whether climate action plans may be too little, too late – and should have been rolled out in the 1990s.
"It's like a diet. You can't just say we have this magic diet, we just to these things and there'll be no pain,” City Heights community activist John Stump told NBC 7. “Climate action requires climate change. And we need to make change now -- all the action the council has proposed, and some really meaningful ones that are going to have some pain."
With the full City Council now poised to review the plan, a big issue waiting in the wings is "community choice" -- and whether the city might "opt out" of San Diego Gas & Electric in favor of alternative energy sources.
SDG&E hasn't taken a position on the plan, but it's known to be preparing a strong case for its program when the time comes.