Mayor Unveils First-ever Local Carbon Offset Program

(December 18, 2007)

Residents will be able to buy carbon offsets that directly benefit San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--Building on his recent proposals for a local carbon tax, solar rebate and loan programs, a grease recycling initiative, and a landmark green building ordinance, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced the creation of the San Francisco Carbon Fund. This is a first-ever city-based carbon offset program that funds only local green activities. Carbon offsetting is the act of mitigating or "offsetting" greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our carbon offset program will achieve meaningful, measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions," said Mayor Newsom. "It is the first effort of its kind, where you can buy carbon offsets for projects that take place in San Francisco, that directly benefit San Francisco."

Other offset programs fund projects in far away locations, and it is frequently difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of these efforts. Today San Francisco becomes the first city to pursue in-city carbon offsets to meet local carbon reduction goals.

Rather than funding replanting tree farms in other hemispheres or investing in alternative power systems on the other side of the planet, Newsom said the San Francisco Carbon Fund would support energy efficiency projects and solar panel installations for low-income housing, as well as biodiesel conversion programs that support the conversion of waste into fuel.

"Globally, the market for carbon offsets is growing rapidly, estimated to top $10 billion by 2010, and there is absolutely no regulation," said Jared Blumenfeld, director of San Francisco's Environment Department. "However, by developing our own program and funding local projects, we have the ability to assure that the offsets actually happen, benefit the local community, and help achieve our aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals."

The San Francisco Carbon Fund will begin as a pilot program to offset emissions from municipal air travel, and will be expanded to San Francisco residents, businesses and visitors once the program infrastructure has been established. The fund will also provide City government, residents and businesses information regarding the true costs of carbon intensive activities, which are likely to be much higher than nominal amounts charged by several current offset programs.

When the program is rolled out citywide, the Department of the Environment will issue an RFP for local greenhouse gas reduction projects that can be covered by the fund.