San Francisco Recognized for Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management

February 27, 2015 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and national climate organizations recognized San Francisco with a prestigious Climate Leadership Award for achieving an aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.  

“The City and County of San Francisco exemplifies the dedication and accomplishments that make a difference in the fight against climate change, and sets a high standard for others to follow,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

“We lead by not only setting aggressive targets but achieving them,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of San Francisco Department of the Environment. “We reduced greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by using cleaner energy, traveling on public transit, and recycling and composting our discards. Now we focus on finding ways to meet our 2017 and 2025 reduction goals.”


EPA Director of Climate Protection Partnerships, Beth Craig, presents award to Director Debbie Raphael  

San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 were 23 percent below 1990 levels and the City is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent and 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2017 and 2025, respectively.

An emissions inventory, conducted by the San Francisco Department of the Environment, shows that San Francisco’s Citywide emissions for electricity, natural gas, on-road transportation, fuel and waste totaled 4.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2012. This compares with 6.2 million metric tons in 1990. The data and reduction were independently, third-party verified by ICF International.

This reduction is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road, or avoiding the burning 3.3 million barrels of oil every year.

San Francisco continues to surpass international and Statewide emissions reduction targets established as part of the Kyoto Protocol calling for emission reductions of 7 percent by 2012, and California’s landmark climate law AB 32 calling for statewide emissions to return to 1990 levels by 2020. Download San Francisco’s Climate Action Strategy.

In 2010, San Francisco’s emissions were at 14.5 percent below 1990 levels; since 2010, an additional 544,781 metric tons of carbon emissions were reduced exceeding the 20 percent reduction goal for 2012. A few examples that contributed to the carbon reductions since the last data analysis in 2010 included:

  • Vehicle fuels: while driving increased by single percent, significant improvements in fuel efficiency and increased use of hybrids and electric vehicles contributed to an overall emissions reduction.
  • Commercial electricity: a combination of PG&E’s cleaner energy portfolio plus significant improvements in the energy mix for Direct Access customers in San Francisco, a 43 percent improvement in emissions factor alone, contributed to San Francisco’s overall emissions reduction.
  • Recycling and composting: through continued residential and commercial diversion of recyclable and organic material from the landfill, San Francisco has dropped 4 percent in from 2010 to 2012, to support overall emissions reduction.

“We congratulate San Francisco as a 2015 Climate Leadership Award winner,” said Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “Action to reduce emissions is more urgent than ever as we experience the impacts of climate change here and now. We hope San Francisco’s accomplishments in setting and achieving goals to reduce greenhouse gases will spur others to examine their practices and follow their example.”

About the Climate Leadership Awards

As part of U.S. EPA’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership co-sponsors the Climate Leadership Awards with three NGO partners —Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), and The Climate Registry (TCR). The national awards program recognizes and incentivizes exemplary corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in response to climate change.  More information about the Climate Leadership Award >