San Francisco Mayor Issues Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

September 14, 2018
sf greenhouse gas reduction

Credit: San Francisco Department of the Environment

With the world’s environmental eyes on San Francisco this past week, a recent announcement by its Mayor, London Breed, is generating attention. Mayor Breed announced groundbreaking new environmental commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste, and advance green infrastructure investments to further San Francisco’s climate action goals. In making the announcement, on September 5, ahead of this year's Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), Mayor Breed also unveiled the City’s largest new conventional rooftop solar installation on the roof of the Moscone Convention Center, where the event was held.

The Global Climate Action Summit, held September 12-14, welcomed leaders from cities, states, and regions throughout the world and served as an opportunity for deeper worldwide climate commitments. As noted in Mayor Breed’s announcement, cities account for 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and play a key role in achieving the accelerated emissions reductions set forward by the Paris Climate Accords.

“As the Federal Administration rolls back critical environmental protections, San Francisco continues to lead in the fight against climate change,” said Mayor Breed. She added, “The Global Climate Action Summit is a chance to highlight San Francisco’s environmental leadership on the world stage.” Mayor Breed noted the city’s accomplishments, saying “We have successfully reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels, while growing our economy by 111 percent and increasing our population by 20 percent. But in order to fully realize the ambitions of the Paris Climate Accord, we must continue to make bold commitments and accelerate actions that reduce emissions and move us towards a clean energy future. That is why, in addition to formally joining the Sierra Club’s nationwide clean energy campaign, San Francisco is committing to reducing landfill disposal by 50 percent by 2030 and ensuring all of our buildings are net-zero emissions by 2050.”

In making her announcement at the Moscone Center on September 5, Mayor Breed committed San Francisco to four key policy pledges: 1) Zero Waste: Reduce waste generation by 15 percent and landfill disposal by 50 percent by 2030; 2) Decarbonizing Buildings: Net-zero carbon buildings in San Francisco by 2050; 3) Green Bonds: Issue more green bonds to finance infrastructure and capital projects; and 4)100 percent Renewable Energy: Switch all electricity in San Francisco to renewables by 2030.

“San Francisco is an example to the country and to the world that a strong economy and strong environmental policies can go hand-in-hand,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “Our continued progress shows that these goals drive action and deliver results that improve our environment and enhance the quality of life for all of our residents.”

These commitments align with a recently completed analysis by the San Francisco Department of Environment for achieving deep emissions reductions across key sectors by 2050. To achieve further near-term reductions, the City plans to expand its renewable energy portfolio, complete a citywide roll-out of the CleanPowerSF program by 2019, and update green building standards for both municipal and private sector projects.

The Moscone Center expansion project, scheduled for completion in December 2018, exemplifies what the new climate-conscious buildings of the future must aim for, according to the Mayor’s news release. The new green Moscone Convention Center is aiming for LEED Platinum certification and would be the highest LEED-certified convention center in the nation. In addition, the convention center was designed for efficiency, from harvesting daylight to capturing more than 12 million gallons of rain water, foundation groundwater, and condensation water annually for landscape irrigation, on-site toilet flushing and street cleaning.

“San Francisco’s commitment to environmental sustainability is demonstrated in the Moscone project,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. The Public Works Department is providing project management and construction management services for the Center. Nuru added, “From demanding smart building design to strategically reducing energy use and emissions, cities and states can be leaders in the battle against global warming.”

Key to San Francisco’s clean energy future are new solar installations like the Moscone Center array, according to a news release detailing the plans. Featuring 792 new panels, the solar generating facility will be San Francisco’s largest conventional rooftop array once completed and will generate 20% of the building’s energy needs. The City's Hetch Hetchy Power System, operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), will supply the remainder of electricity, ensuring that the Global Climate Action Summit and other conventions are powered by 100 percent emissions-free, clean electricity.

“Global climate change starts at home, and now, more than ever, we’re giving San Franciscans the power to choose cleaner, greener electricity that is generated from local sources,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “Between our 100 year-old greenhouse gas-free Hetch Hetchy Power system and our growing CleanPowerSF community choice energy program, we are now supplying electricity to meet approximately 50 percent of the demand in San Francisco. Publicly owned, carbon-free power is critical to achieving San Francisco’s clean energy vision and will ensure a greener future for generations to come.”

 “San Francisco has been at the vanguard of environmental policies, and our parks are no exception,” stated San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. . “Our ambitious water conservation plan, coupled with our 97 percent green waste diversion, demonstrate how cities can maintain their green spaces while reducing their environmental footprint,” he added.

Building upon San Francisco’s track record of successful greenhouse gas emissions reductions, Mayor Breed announced that she has agreed to become the newest Mayoral Co-Chair of the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100 percent Clean Energy Program. The program is a growing coalition of more than 200 mayors nationwide supporting a goal of 100 percent clean, renewable energy in their communities. To that end, Mayor Breed also doubled down on San Francisco’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy and became a formal signatory to the Sierra Club’s nationwide clean energy campaign.

“Mayors can lead our nation toward a healthier, stronger and more prosperous country by supporting a vision of 100 percent clean, renewable energy in their communities,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

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