As Mayor Gavin Newsom touted The City’s reduction of carbon emissions on Tuesday, environmental groups were pushing for him to go even further.
In addition to a man in an ape suit, several members of the Sierra Club were walking among the crowd at Crissy Field urging the mayor to support alternative power plans, specifically a November ballot initiative. Billed as the Clean Energy Act, it would allow the Board of Supervisors to explore public power, the idea that city government should own an electricity system.
Newsom announced that The City is close to achieving greenhouse gas reduction goals set in 1997 by the Kyoto Protocol. The international treaty on greenhouse-gas reduction sets a 7 percent reduction goal by 2012. Newsom said natural-gas usage has dropped 19 percent in residences. Two fossil-fueled power plants in The City have also been scaled back.
Since 1990, The City has managed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 5 percent, according to a San Francisco study verified by ICF International, which has prepared the official United States Greenhouse Gas inventory.
Newsom has come out strongly against the Clean Energy Act after seven supervisors sent the proposal to the ballot, citing a number of public utilities projects such as the sewer system that demand more immediate attention before embarking on a multibillion-dollar power grid.
The mayor has called the Clean Energy Act a rebranding scheme to mask a public-power grab. A campaign to defeat the initiative has been formed through Newsom advisor Eric Jaye’s political consultancy, which represents Pacific Gas & Electric Company.
But the Sierra Club, one of the largest and most influential environmental advocacy groups in the country, has begun collecting signatures to sway the mayor’s stance. The petition calls on Newsom to “demonstrate your leadership as a green mayor” by building the world’s “largest urban solar network.”
Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said the petition was sent out in a “hope” that the mayor would change his mind. While Pope praised Newsom for his environmental moxie, he said they didn’t agree on public power.
“You’re not always going to agree with your friends,” Pope said.
Gas reduction goals almost met
5 percent: Greenhouse gas emissions reduced between 1990 and 2005
8 percent: Emissions reduced between 2000 and 2005
San Francisco goals: Reduce emissions 20 percent by 2012
Kyoto Protocol goals: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 7 percent by 2012
Source: Mayor’s Office