SF Greenhouse Gas Emissions Well Below 1990 Levels

(August 5, 2008)

City nearing 7% reduction targets for 2012 outlined in the Kyoto Protocol

Newsom also Accepts Award for City's Effort Combating Climate Change

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--Mayor Gavin Newsom today solidified San Francisco's status as a leader on environmental issues accepting an award from ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability and announcing the completion of a comprehensive study showing that by 2005, San Francisco achieved a 5% reduction in communitywide greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels. The Year 1990 is the baseline year for greenhouse gas emissions in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set the target at a 7% reduction below 1990 levels by 2012.

In 2002, San Francisco set its own goal of reaching a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2012. While San Francisco has reduced emissions 5% since 1990, there has been a significant downturn of 8% from peak emissions in 2000, totaling 670,000 tons of greenhouse gas.

'We are already on pace to exceed the goal of a 7% reduction in greenhouse gases set by the Kyoto Protocol,' said Mayor Newsom, 'With the aggressive policies and initiatives being put forth by my administration, we can continue to move towards our goal of 20% reduction by 2012.'

The results of the study were independently reviewed by ICF International, which has prepared the official United States Greenhouse Gas inventory and produced and reviewed hundreds of other public and private sector inventories. In ICF's opinion, the inventory provides a credible compilation of community-wide GHG emissions in the city and county of San Francisco.

According to a statement from ICF, 'San Francisco's community inventory methodology goes above and beyond most current community inventories in the United States. These efforts are impressive given the inherent complexities and challenges in producing a community-wide inventory and the lack of a widely-accepted and standard community-wide inventory protocol.'

The 'community-wide inventory' includes greenhouse gas emissions generated by San Francisco by residents, businesses, and commuters, as well as municipal operations. The inventory also includes emissions from both transportation sources and from building energy sources.

ICLEI also chose the day to award San Francisco its 5th star for achieving all the goals set by their agency for a local city to address climate change. ICLEI is the international association of local governments and national and regional local government organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable development. Nearly 900 cities, towns, counties, and their associations worldwide comprise ICLEI's growing membership. ICLEI works with these and hundreds of other local governments through international performance-based, results-oriented campaigns and programs.

'Today we recognize San Francisco as a true leader and innovator on climate protection and part of an elite group of cities driving action and inspiring others,' said ICLEI Executive Director Michelle Wyman. 'From green building standards and their commitment to recycling and waste reduction, San Francisco illustrates the power of a local government to proactively address global warming while enhancing the community.'

Specific Communitywide Inventory reductions/increases between 1990-2005 include:

Transportation The vast majority of transportation emissions come from car traffic.

Intraregional emissions since 1990 have increased, in large part because commuters are traveling from farther away locations.

San Francisco road vehicle emissions actually decreased since 1990.

Despite this, California's Department of Transportation forecasts that these emissions (and total vehicle miles traveled) will take a sharp upturn. However, this does not incorporate any drastic increases in gas prices into the model.


San Francisco has seen an overall reduction in electricity emissions between 1990 and 2005 (measured). This reduction in lbs. of CO2 per Megawatt Hour reflects a cleaner electricity portfolio.

This emission reduction comes despite an overall uptick each year since 2003 in community electricity usage. Community usage of natural gas has been flat since 2003.

Natural gas usage has dropped 19% since 1990 due to a reduction in residential use.

Commercial and Industrial natural gas usage has gone up by about 15 %.