Climate Action in the City

September 21st, 2017 No Comments »

SFT’s September climate panel was a great success. Moderated for an overflow crowd by Berniecrat Claire Lau, participants included SF Environment Director Debbie Raphael, 350SF volunteer David Shearn, and Sierra Club’s Sue Vaughan.

Debbie Raphael came equipped with slides to graphically illustrate San Francisco’s climate goals and our path toward achieving them. The main current target is to be in compliance with the Paris accord with 40% emissions reductions (over the standard 1990 benchmark) by 2025, and 80% by 2050.

How are we doing? Since 1990, the population has risen 19.5% and GDP by 78%, while emissions have actually fallen by 28%. This exceeds the city’s 2017 goal of 25% reduction, and has largely been achieved via a cleaner grid and more and greener transit.

Buildings and transportation are the major emissions problems in San Francisco. Raphael listed five things that need to be done to further reductions:

  1. Make existing buildings much more energy efficient
  2. Stop using natural gas altogether
  3. Electrify all transportation
  4. More efficient separation of compost from landfill
  5. Increase grid locality with things like more battery storage

In 2018 the city will host a Climate Action Summit to demonstrate to other cities what can be done.

David Shearn elaborated on 350’s commitment to reducing CO2 in a just way. Locally they operate a clean transportation campaign and sponsor fossil fuel resistance and climate education projects.

Sue Vaughn said that despite the hikes, classes, and other nature activities, Sierra Club is largely a political organization whose primary tools are Environmental Impact Reports and legislation. To get what they want from government, they lobby and file a lot of lawsuits.

Sue emphasized the impact that things like affordable housing have on emissions. “We don’t want people living in Tracy and driving in every day.” Also the importance of expanding public transit and getting people to ride it. Sierra Club has always been a leader on such issues.

The discussion covered many other topics as well. You can watch the full video above.

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