A bold path forward on climate

We are living in a time where climate change poses an existential threat. Rising seas are supercharging King Tides, flooding city sidewalks and encroaching on our city’s roadways.

Wildfires are burning hotter, spreading faster and occurring with greater frequency. In some years, snow pack is measured in inches, rather than yards.

The world’s problems can feel like too much for one city or one person to take on. We can’t let ourselves succumb to hopelessness or “eco-anxiety.” We must continue to put one foot in front of the other and tackle global climate change head-on right here in our own backyard.

Today, the world is focused on San Francisco, the host City for Gov. Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit from Sept. 12-14. As the name implies, thousands of elected officials, business leaders, climate scientists, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and educators from around the world will gather at Moscone Center with one common goal: taking action and showing the world and national leaders what is possible.

San Francisco is a city of action where bold ideas to heal the planet are rehearsed in our own urban laboratory before reaching the farthest corners of the world. In 2003, we set a goal of achieving zero waste and substantially cut The City’s disposal in just 10 years. We’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 1990 levels while our population has increased by 20 percent and the economy has grown by 111 percent. Our march to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 hastens with every new CleanPowerSF and Hetch Hetchy Power customer. And we’re almost there—77 percent of our electricity supply is already greenhouse gas-free.

The fact that Brown chose San Francisco to host this global environmental convening is testament to our efforts, our successes, and the possibilities of what’s to come. Our day-to-day climate conscious choices are working. People are noticing. And they are coming from all corners of the world to learn, be inspired, and take a little piece of our green ethos back with them.

Action has gotten us to the world stage. But we need to harness our ambition and take climate commitment to the next level. And that’s what this Global Summit is about: action and commitment. It’s about defying the tendency for convenient denial or eco-anxiety. It’s about sharing successes and challenging each other to do more.

So, here’s what we are going to do.

We will continue to reduce emissions by electrifying all of our building energy needs and switching to 100 percent renewable energy. By 2030, new buildings constructed in San Francisco will be net-zero carbon and all existing buildings will be net-zero carbon by 2050.

We are doubling down on our commitment to 100 percent renewable electricity by rolling out CleanPowerSF to the rest of the City and expanding Hetch Hetchy Power services.

We will continue towards zero waste by reducing waste generation by 15 percent and cutting disposal in half by 2030.

Finally, we will issue more green bonds, so we can build climate resilient infrastructure, which offer safer, more durable investments for investors, thereby lowering interest rates and saving the City money.

Our path forward is bold, and it won’t be easy. These changes will impact all of us, residents and businesses alike. It means our air will be cleaner, people will breathe easier, neighborhoods will be more vibrant, and we will have brought tangible environmental benefits to all San Franciscans.

When cities lead, the world follows. The timing of this Summit is no accident. In December, the United Nations will host the next climate negotiations, this time in Poland. The commitments signed and stories shared here in San Francisco will be presented as a challenge to national governments, helping them overcome any hesitations or excuses they may have in taking the actions needed to heal and protect our planet.

Join us and be a part of the solution. Use the power of your choices to express your values.

There’s so much that each of us can do. And we must.

Debbie Raphael
Share
Published by
Debbie Raphael

Recent Posts

Smoky air closes Alcatraz

Alcatraz and other major visitor attractions in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are closed this weekend due to unhealthy…

10 hours ago

Striking Boston Marriott workers reach tentative agreement, negotiations continue in San Francisco

Some 1,500 striking Marriott hotel workers in Boston, Mass. have reached a tentative agreement in contract negotiations with the hotel…

11 hours ago

Nov. 18-20: Disney Junior Dance Party on Tour, End of Life Resource Fair, Castle in the Sky, Marion Nestle, Sonics, Esperanza Spalding, Bandstand, Volti and Left Coast Ensemble, Good Charlotte, Thanks to Hank

SUNDAY, NOV. 18 Disney Junior Dance Party on Tour: The 90-minute interactive concert experience for kids and families features live…

11 hours ago

SF Preps: San Francisco Section postpones football semifinals to Thanksgiving Week

The smoke and ash from the Camp fire in Butte County continues to impact local high school sports in the…

13 hours ago

In first hearing to appeal SF scooter permit loss, Spin alleges ‘biased’ process

Scooter company Spin lost its bid to operate in San Francisco but now it’s trying to spin that decision around.…

1 day ago

California fires: Death toll in Paradise rises to 71; more than 1,000 unaccounted for

The death toll from California’s worst fire rose to 71 on Friday, with more than 1,000 people still unaccounted for.…

1 day ago