A Sustainable San Francisco

This morning, I welcomed elected officials, business leaders, investors, and climate activists from dozens of countries to the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. At a time when our President and the Federal Administration are rolling back crucial environmental protections, world leaders are gathering to take bold actions to address climate change.

Welcoming delegates to the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit

San Francisco’s ambitious environmental goals and initiatives have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 1990, all while our economy has grown by 111 percent and our population has increased by 20 percent. We have led the way in instituting composting and recycling, banning non-biodegradable Styrofoam packaging, and providing for convenient disposal of unwanted medication, which has diverted over 40 tons of pharmaceuticals from the Bay and landfills. By 2025, we will only purchase zero-emission buses, and by 2035 we will transition entirely to a zero-emission bus fleet.

But we must go further. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change in our backyard, as evidenced by the increasingly devastating fires and droughts throughout California. The time to act is yesterday, which is why we are making a series of commitments along with cities from around the world to do more:

  1. Zero Waste: By 2030, San Francisco and 23 other cities commit to reduce municipal waste generation by 15 percent and cut landfill disposal in half.
    The International Solid Waste Association estimates that increased recycling and composting efforts could cut 10 to 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. San Francisco currently recovers more of our waste than perhaps any other city in the United States due in large part to our recycling and composting programs, but we are making further commitments to achieve our Zero Waste goals.
  2. Decarbonize buildings: By 2030, all new construction in San Francisco will be running on 100% renewable energy, and by 2050, all buildings in San Francisco will be net-zero for carbon emissions.
    I have been very clear that building more housing is a top priority of my administration. Large buildings account for about half of a city’s total emission, which is why this new construction is a great opportunity to institute policies that encourage new zero-emission developments.
  3. 100% Renewable Energy Citywide
    One of my proudest accomplishments is spearheading CleanPowerSF, San Francisco’s 100% renewable power program. To date, over 100,000 customers have enrolled, which has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 82,000 metric tons, the equivalent of taking 17,000 cars off the road. In 2019, CleanPowerSF is expected to enroll the rest of the city.

    As part of this commitment, I joined the Sierra Club’s 100% renewable and clean energy pledge and signed on as a Co-Chair of this effort.
  4. Green Bonds
    San Francisco is expanding our green bonds offering to provide financing for sustainable infrastructure. We are currently the second largest municipal issuer of green bonds in the United States and have sold over $1.5 billion in these bonds to date.

There is still plenty of work to be done. We need to reform our land use policies to build more housing in urban centers and near transit. We need to improve our public transportation and invest in physical infrastructure changes so that people can safely choose alternatives to driving like walking, riding a bike or even, yes, electric scooters.

Setting San Francisco on a course to sustainability will require all of us to work in concert on a number of ambitious efforts. These commitments I am making will not be easy but they are an important step towards a cleaner, healthier future. While the Federal Government refuses to even talk about climate change, we are pushing forward. Since the President refuses to lead, we will.

45th Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco

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