Resolution urging the Board of Supervisors to support efforts of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to reduce greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act.

 [San Francisco Commission on the Environment Support of Clean Air Act)


WHEREAS, The decade from 2000 to 2010 was the warmest on record[i], and 2005 and 2010 tied for the hottest years on record[ii]; and,

WHEREAS, The current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is approximately 392 parts per million3 (ppm)[iii]; and,

WHEREAS, One of the world’s leading climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen, stated in 2008: “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm[iv]; and,

WHEREAS, The Environmental Protection Agency determined that current and future greenhouse gas concentrations endanger public health[v], and according to the Global Humanitarian Forum climate change is already responsible every year for some 300,000 deaths, 325 million people seriously affected, and economic losses worldwide of U.S. $125 billion[vi]; and,

WHEREAS, Extreme weather events, most notably heat waves and precipitation extremes, are striking with increased frequency[vii], with deadly consequences for people and wildlife; in the United States in 2011 alone, a record 14 weather and climate disasters occurred, including droughts, heat waves, and floods that cost at least $US 1 billion each in damages and loss of human lives[viii]; and,

WHEREAS, Climate change is affecting food security by negatively impacting the growth and yields of important crops[ix], and droughts, floods and changes in snowpack are altering water supplies[x]; and,

WHEREAS, Scientists have concluded that by 2100 as many as one in 10 species may be on the verge of extinction due to climate change[xi]; and,

WHEREAS, The world’s land-based ice is rapidly melting, threatening water supplies in many regions and raising sea levels[xii], and Arctic summer sea ice extent has decreased to about half what it was several decades ago[xiii], with an accompanying drastic reduction in sea-ice thickness and volume[xiv], which is severely jeopardizing ice-dependent animals[xv]; and,

WHEREAS, Sea level is rising faster along the U.S. East Coast than it has for at least 2,000 years[xvi], is accelerating in pace[xvii], and could rise by one to two meters in this century, threatening millions of

Americans with severe flooding[xviii]; and,

WHEREAS, For four decades, the Clean Air Act has protected the air we breathe through a proven, comprehensive, successful system of pollution control that saves lives and creates economic benefits exceeding its costs by many times[xix]; and,

WHEREAS, With the Clean Air Act, air quality in this country has improved significantly since 1970, despite major growth both in our economy and, industrial production; and,

WHEREAS, Between 1970 and 1990, the six main pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act — particulate matter and ground-level ozone (both of which contribute to smog and asthma), carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur and nitrogen oxides (the pollutants that cause acid rain) — were reduced by between 47 percent and

93 percent, and airborne lead was virtually eliminated; and,

WHEREAS, The Clean Air Act has produced economic benefits valued at $2 trillion or 30 times the cost of regulation; and,

WHEREAS, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts vs. EPA (2007) that greenhouse gases are “air pollutants” as defined by the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate them; and,

WHEREAS, The city of San Francisco prides itself on being a leader in the fight against climate change and for clean air:  in 2002, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution committing the City to a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal of 20% below 1990 levels by 2012;[xx] in 2008 the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance extending the City’s climate goals to establish new GHG reduction targets of 25% below 1990 levels by 2017, 40% below by 2025, and 80% below by 2050;[xxi] and as of 2010, San Francisco has already reduced GHG emissions to 14.5% below 1990 levels, making the City one of the first jurisdictions to meet and exceed Kyoto Protocol targets.[xxii]

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That climate change is not an abstract problem for the future or one that will only affect far-distant places but rather climate change is happening now, we are causing it, and the longer we wait to act, the more we lose and the more difficult the problem will be to solve; and we, the Commission on the Environment urge the Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution on behalf of the residents of San Francisco, supporting the efforts of the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson, and President Barack Obama to move swiftly to fully employ and enforce the Clean Air Act to do our part to reduce carbon in our atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission Secretary shall forward a copy of this resolution to the Board of Supervisors.

I hereby certify that this Resolution was adopted at the Commission on the Environment’s Meeting on September 20, 2012.


Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

VOTE:    Approved (5-0)

AYES:    Commissioners Tuchow, Gravanis, Arce, Stephenson and Wald                  

NOES:    None

ABSENT:  Commissioners Mok and King         

[i] Press Release, National Aeronautic Space Association, NASA Research Finds Last Decade was Warmest on Record, 2009 One of the Warmest Years (Jan. 21, 2010),

[ii] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA: 2010 Tied for Warmest Year on Record,

[iii], What the World Needs to Watch,; Earth System Research Laboratory of NOAA, Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,

[iv] J. Hansen et al., Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?, Open Atmos. Sci. 2, 217 (2008),

[v] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, 74 Federal Register 66496-66546 (Dec. 15, 2009) (to be codified at 40 C.F.R. ch. 1),

[vi] Global Humanitarian Forum, The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis (2009), , p.1 of pdf.

[vii] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to

Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) (2012),; U.S. Global Change Research

Program, Global Climate Change Impacts in the US: Global Climate Change (2009),; D. Coumou and S. Rahmstorf, A decade of weather extremes, Nature Climate Change (2012),

[viii]National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Extreme Weather 2011,; Press Release, World Meteorological Organization, 2011: world’s 10th warmest year, warmest year with La Niňa on record, second-lowest Arctic sea ice extent (2012),

[ix] D.B. Lobell et al., Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980, Science 333, 616 (July 29, 2011), ; U.S. Global Change Research Program, Global Climate Change Impacts in the US: Agriculture (2009),

[x]U.S. Global Change Research Program, Global Climate Change Impacts in the US: Water Resources (2009),

[xi]I.M.D. Maclean and R.J. Wilson, Recent ecological responses to climate change support predictions of highextinctionrisk , PNAS 108, 12337 (2011 ,, summary at

[xii]Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report (2007),, pp. 30, 49 of pdf.

[xiii] J. Stroeve et al., Arctic Sea Ice Extent Plummets in 2007, EOS 89, 2 (January 8, 2008),, p. 13 of pdf.

[xiv]Polar Science Center, Arctic Sea Ice Volume Anomaly, version 2,; R. Kwok and D.A. Rothrock, Decline in Arctic sea ice thickness from submarine and ICESat records: 1958-2008,Geophysical Research Letters 36, L15501 (2009),

[xv] Center for Biological Diversity and Care for the Wild International, Extinction: It’s Not Just for Polar Bears (2010),

[xvi]A.C. Kemp et al., Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia, PNAS 108, 11017 (2011),, summary at

[xvii] M.A. Merrifield et al., An Anomalous Recent Acceleration of Global Sea Level Rise, Journal of Climate 22, 5772 (2008),

[xviii] B.H. Strauss, Tidally adjusted estimates of topographic vulnerability to sea level rise and flooding for the

contiguous United States, Environmental Research Letters 7 (2012),, summary at

[xix] For Clean Air Act facts, see Center for Biological Diversity, The Clean Air Act Works (2011), ; and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act, 1970 to 1990 (1997),; and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act, 1990 to 2010 (1999), .

[xx] San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Resolution 158-02:  Supporting Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, City and County of San Francisco, 12 February 2002.

[xxi] San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Ordinance 81-08:  Climate Change Goals and Action Plan Ordinance, City and County of San Francisco, 26 May 2008.

[xxii] San Francisco Department of Environment, San Francisco Community GHG Emissions Inventory 2010, March 2012.