San Francisco's Climate Change Goals and Action Plan ordinance
A comprehensive ordinance establishing a Climate Change Goals and Action Plan for San Francisco, sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, was approved unanimously in May 2008. This ordinance adopts greenhouse gas reduction targets for San Francisco: 25% below 1990 levels by 2017, 40% below 1990 levels by 2025, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The City will then adopt specific reduction targets for each year, and every city department will create a departmental action plan to achieve its goals. Livable City worked with Supervisor Mirkarimi and the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters to draft the legislation.
Key elements of the Climate Change Goals and Action Plan ordinance:
San Francisco has its own Climate Action Plan, which calls for reducing San Francisco's greenhouse gas emissions (chiefly carbon dioxide) by 2.5 million tons by 2012, or a 20% reduction from 1990 levels. (see the Department of Environment's website for the complete plan.) California's plan, adopted last year, seeks to reduce emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. An 80% reduction sounds daunting, but it amounts to reducing emissions by approximately 2% per year.
San Francisco's Climate Action Plan found that 49% of the City's greenhouse gas emissions came from buildings, and 51% from transportation. Of the transportation share, only 3% of emissions were from transport, and the remaining 48% from automobiles. San Francisco's plan doesn't account for emissions from its Port, Airport, or from the stuff San Franciscans consume. The plan relies on emission reductions from transportation (the largest share), building energy, solid waste and recycling, and electrical generation to achieve its targets.
San Francisco also developed a sustainability plan in 1996. The plan developed goals for a comprehensive list of environmental topics, including Air Quality, Biodiversity, Energy, Climate Change, and Ozone Depletion, Food and Agriculture, Hazardous Materials, Human Health, Parks, Open Spaces and Streetscapes, Solid Waste, Transportation, and Water and Wastewater, and such cross-disciplinary areas as Economy and Economic Development, Environmental Justice, Municipal Expenditures, Public Information and Education, and Risk Management. A list of indicators were established, but no goals set, so progress has been uneven.
San Francisco's plans lay out bold goals, but fall short because the other city departments, including Planning, MTA, Redevelopment, Recreation and Parks, and the Port, Airport, and Public Utilities Commission, have not adopted these sustainabilty goals as their own, and have not addressed sustainability in their own plans, practices, and metrics. Livable City is working to integrate sustainability goals into the activities of every city department, especially those concerned with land use, transportation, and infrastructure.
Climate Action plan quick facts:
GREEN LA: Los Angeles' "Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming"
On May 15, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled GREEN LA, Los Angeles' plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% below 1990 levels by 2030. The plan includes shifting the city's municipal utility to 35% renewable power by 2020, improving the energy efficiency of buildings and lighting, and reducing water use by 20%. The plan also includes an ambitious expansion of transit in Los Angeles, including the promoting high-density housing close to major transit lines. Another goal is to "depave paradise" by planting a million trees, creating and depaving parks and schoolyards, expanding rainwater infiltration, and restoring the LA River.
Villaraigosa, who was elected mayor in 2005, has been an energetic livable city advocate. He appointed environmentalists to powerful commissions, including the Port and Planning commissions, and has championed an ambitious transit expansion program that includes rapid bus, bus rapid transit, light rail, and metro. Villaragosa works well with LA's energetic community of livable city advocates. Tree People have expanded LA's urban forest, and convinced Los Angeles County to become an innovator in reducing urban runoff and recharging groundwater by greening the city. Friends of the Los Angeles River have re-envisioned the forlorn, concrete-lined LA River as a naturalized river and linear open space.
On Earth Day, Sunday April 22, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York released the PlaNYC report, New York City's blueprint for a more sustainable, livable New York. The report aims help New York grow from its current 8.2 million residents to 9.1 million by 2030, while providing the city with more affordable housing, cleaner air and water, more accessible open space, and better public transit, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.
Bloomberg's announcement included some big new initiatives among the 127 proposals around livability and sustainability:
"When our Office of Long Term Planning began its work more than a year ago, the goal was to create a strategic land use plan. But we soon realized that you can’t formulate a land use plan without thinking about transportation and you can’t think about transportation without thinking about air quality. You can’t think about air quality without thinking about energy and you certainly can’t think about energy or any of this without thinking about global warming.
"Every one of these issues is inter-connected. And so we broadened our horizon. We began thinking about a more comprehensive vision for addressing all of the city’s long-term physical and that includes environmental challenges."
The plan is ambitious, but it is being coordinated by a new office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability headed by Daniel Doctoroff, and it enjoys strong mayoral support. New York is also building on a soild foundation the city has invested heavily in restoring its transit system to health, and ridership is at a 50-year high; its open spaces have been restored and revitalized, and nearly 300 acres added in the past 5 years; and the city's compact form and reliance on public transit make it one of the most energy-efficient cities in the US.