Mayor Newsom Unveils "Climate Action Plan" to Cut Local Emissions, Combat Global Warming

(September 27, 2004)


Mayor Newsom released San

Francisco's Climate Action Plan

at Heron's Head Park, under the

shadow of the Hunters Point

Power Plant.

S.F. Plan Aims to Reduce Annual Emissions by 2.5 Million Tons, Exceeds International Treaty Standards Abandoned by Bush Administration

San Francisco – Joined by global climate change experts, community leaders and local agency officials, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today unveiled an ambitious "Climate Action Plan" to dramatically reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and curb global warming. The Climate Action Plan, a joint project of the San Francisco Department of the Environment (DOE) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), outlines specific steps that local government agencies, residents and businesses should take to reduce San Francisco's annual carbon dioxide ("greenhouse gas") emissions by more than 2.5 million tons by 2012. The new plan also puts San Francisco on a course to exceed the emissions reductions recommended by the United Nations Kyoto Protocols adopted by more than 100 industrialized nations around the world since 1997, but abandoned by the Bush Administration in 2001.

"Global climate change is a real and looming threat to our economy, our public health and our environment," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. "But when the current Administration in Washington refuses to cooperate with the rest of the world to reduce greenhouse gases, it is even more important that San Francisco and other cities across this country demonstrate real environmental leadership and take specific, local steps to cut emissions and protect our future."

Underscoring the potential threats to San Francisco from global climate change, Newsom discussed the new plan at San Francisco's Heron's Head Park, which could someday be submerged by rising seas, along with other Bay Area wetlands, coastlines and properties, if international greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked. Rising temperatures could also substantially reduce Sierra snowpack and California's water supply, boost air pollution levels and increase the risk of asthma, West Nile and other public health threats.

Through "greener" alternative fuel and hybrid transportation fleets, transit improvements, increased transit ridership, investing in alternative energies, recycling and conservation, the Climate Action Plan targets substantial reductions in the key areas of transportation, energy and solid waste management. The Plan also recommends new steps to promote the reduction of greenhouse gases through the establishment of a City interdepartmental working group to monitor implementation, track progress and quantify CO2 emissions and reductions.

"When it comes to global warming, the Climate Action Plan is San Francisco's opportunity to think globally by acting locally," said Susan Leal, General Manager of the SFPUC. "By partnering with other City departments, local business and residents, we can cut emissions and lighten the load on California's electric grid through renewable energy and energy efficiency programs."

Earlier this year, the SFPUC completed the largest city-owned solar power system in the nation atop Moscone Convention Center. SFPUC is also partnering with the Department of the Environment to install solar power systems on municipal properties, businesses and residences across the city through the "Generation Solar" program. San Francisco also promotes energy efficiency through the Department of Environment's Peak Energy Program, which aims to reduce electricity demand in San Francisco by 16 megawatts, and through the recently adopted Green Building Ordinance requiring "green" building design standards in City construction projects.

Newsom noted that some of the transportation steps identified in the Climate Action Plan are already underway. With more than 700 clean air vehicles in its transportation fleet, San Francisco is an established leader in alternative fuel vehicles. More than half of MUNI's fleet is comprised of zero-emission vehicles and the City sponsors programs to promote low-emission taxicabs and natural-gas, long-haul garbage trucks.

In 2002, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Resolution, which committed the City to reduce emissions to 20 percent below their 1990 levels by the year 2012. According to the Plan, San Francisco currently emits 9.7 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year. To meet the Plan's ambitious goal, San Franciscans must reduce annual emissions to 7.2 million tons by 2012, a rollback of 2.5 million tons. The plan targets local reductions that would exceed the international standards to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions established by the United Nations Kyoto Protocol in 2012. While more than 100 industrialized nations have ratified the Kyoto Protocol since 1997, the Bush Administration withdrew support of the international agreement sighting disproportionate economic hardship on the United States.

"Responding to future threats with immediate action takes vision and discipline," said Jared Blumenfeld, director of the Department of Environment. "We need to take action now, even though the impacts of climate change may take decades to fully unfold. Regardless of the reluctance of national leaders to address this issue, San Francisco will join in a forceful campaign to roll back greenhouse gas emissions and ensure a healthy future for us all."

San Francisco is among 600 cities around the world taking action through the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection campaign.


Mark Westlund, 415-355-3714, Dept. of the Environment

Chandra Lawrence, 415-554-0704, SF Public Utilities Commission