San Francisco, CA, December 8, 2021 — Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Department of the Environment today released the City’s highly anticipated 2021 Climate Action Plan. The data-driven, community-informed, and people-focused Plan contains implementable strategies to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 while building a more just and equitable future.
“With global climate change rapidly accelerating and affecting us now, we must address this urgent challenge and work together to create a future where we can all thrive,” said Mayor London Breed. “San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan takes our ambitious goals and lays out the strategies and actions we need to take to turn those goals into reality. There’s a lot of work ahead, but I’m hopeful for the future. If our response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it is that when San Franciscans stand together, we can meet any challenge.”
San Francisco’s Plan takes a comprehensive approach to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions in the City by identifying strategies and actions in six key areas: energy supply, building operations, transportation and land use, housing, responsible production and consumption, and healthy ecosystems. In total, the Plan identifies 31 strategies and 159 supporting actions to help achieve the new environmental commitments codified this summer in Mayor Breed’s climate legislation: reducing emissions 61% below 1990 levels by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2040. In San Francisco, net-zero emissions is defined as reducing emissions 90% below 1990 levels and sequestering the rest in natural solutions like trees and green spaces.
Each of the actions included in the Plan were identified and evaluated based on their potential for reducing emissions and uniquely meeting the parallel goals of building greater racial and social equity, protecting public health, increasing community resilience, and fostering a more just economy. Of those strategies and actions, those with the most promising impacts are:
- Energy Supply: Use 100% renewable electricity by 2025 and phase out all other fossil fuels.
- Building Operations: Electrify existing buildings.
Transportation & Land Use:
- Invest in public and active transportation projects;
- Increase density and mixed-use land near transit;
- Accelerate adoption of zero emission vehicles and expansion of public charging infrastructure;
- Utilize pricing levers to reduce private vehicle use and minimize congestion; and
- Implement and reform parking management programs.
- Housing: Increase compact infill housing production near transit.
- Responsible Production & Consumption: Reduce food waste and embrace plant-rich diets.
- Healthy Ecosystems: Enhance and maintain San Francisco’s urban forest and open space.
To celebrate the Plan’s release, the Department of the Environment will host a series of curated talks by local leaders, activists, artists, and youth this evening, December 8 at 5:30pm. The launch event is hosted in partnership with TEDx Countdown, a global initiative that aims to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis.
“Leaders saw firsthand at COP26 that people are justifiably demanding real change now,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the Department of the Environment. “We can’t just set lofty goals- cities around the world must take bold, aggressive action to reduce their carbon emissions. Our Climate Action Plan serves as a model to other municipalities looking to take concrete steps towards a more sustainable future.”
San Francisco’s 2021 Climate Action Plan is distinct from previous plans and many of the climate commitments from other cities because it uses the latest data and science, builds upon previous successes, and above all else, offers a comprehensive blueprint that centers people and equity. This Plan puts a focus on implementation, not aspiration, and is the result of rigorous accounting, analysis, data collection, and modeling. Model projections show that if San Francisco implements the Plan’s comprehensive strategies and actions, the City will achieve about a 61% reduction in emissions by 2030.
Within the Plan is robust analysis to quantify the additional cost and benefits of climate action. These findings reveal that implementing the Plan will save money and lives, and reduce illness and health care costs to residents and businesses. Analysis of just 18 of the 159 actions show a total of $2.7 billion in benefits, especially due to avoided deaths from eliminating natural gas use in buildings. Examples include improved health and reduced mortality from improved air quality and reduced pollution and increased community resilience from accelerated disaster relief response time. Additionally, achieving the Plan’s goal of efficient and all-electric buildings alone could support up to 2,900 San Francisco workers in full-time 30-year careers across a range of occupations. Other job creation potentials from climate action implementation are detailed in the full Plan.
“San Francisco’s community-led and collaborative approach has resulted in innovative policy recommendations and program implementation over the years,” said Avni Jamdar, a member of Mayor Breed’s Zero Emissions Building Task Force and Regional Director of Emerald Cities, a non-profit organization working towards a more sustainable and inclusive economy. “This process demonstrates for us all that cities can lead the way and build a future where no one is left behind.”
San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan also builds upon a tremendous track record of environmental success and innovation over the decades:
As of 2019, San Francisco has already reduced carbon emissions 41% below 1990 levels;
CleanPowerSF, which is already mostly greenhouse gas-free, is poised to deliver a 100% renewable electricity supply to San Francisco electricity customers by 2025;
Last year San Francisco passed the most comprehensive ban on natural gas in new construction in the country; and,
This year marks the 25th anniversary of San Francisco’s first-of-its-kind citywide composting program.
All of this monumental progress has not just reduced emissions, but has also come with additional important benefits, such as improved air quality.
“It’s never been more clear than now that in order to address the climate crisis, governments must coordinate and we must all work together,” said Laura Jay, Regional Director, North America. “We’re looking forward to San Francisco’s continued partnership with C40 Cities to ensure that municipalities around the world can learn from this bold and innovative Plan.”
The 2021 Climate Action Plan is the result of legislation sponsored by Mayor Breed over the summer and passed by the Board of Supervisors. Specifically, included in the legislation is the goal to become a net-zero emissions city by 2040, critical updates to Chapter 9 of the City’s Environment Code, and the release of an actionable framework to achieve the codified goals resulting in this current Climate Action Plan.
The Plan was developed by the Department of the Environment with support and collaboration from many key partners, stakeholders, and over 19 public agencies, including the Department of Public Health, Planning Department, Public Utilities Commission, County Transportation Authority, Municipal Transportation Agency, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Port, SFO, and community groups like PODER, Chinatown Community Development Center, and SPUR.
San Francisco continues to make progress on initiatives that will help the City achieve these aggressive new targets, including reducing emissions from office buildings and homes, promoting transit, transitioning to zero-emission transportation, and eliminating waste. San Francisco is also engaged with global partners in the fight against climate change as a member of C40, the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, and the Climate Mayors.
The full 2021 Climate Action Plan can be accessed by visiting sfclimateaction.org.
For more information on today’s event, Hope in a Heated Planet, by TEDxCityofSanFrancisco, please visit sfenvironment.org/climateplan.