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Mayor Lee Announces San Francisco Exceeds New Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Milestone

San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 28 percent since 1990, while economy has grown 78 percent over same time

As San Francisco prepares to celebrate Earth Day later this week, Mayor Edwin M. Lee announced today that San Francisco exceeded its greenhouse gas emission reduction goal two years ahead of schedule, achieving a 28 percent reduction from 1990 levels. In 2008, San Francisco set an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2017.

“As the federal government rolls back efforts curbing harmful greenhouse gas emission, this City will continue to push forward and demonstrate what is possible,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “San Francisco is proof that you can have a strong economy while being environmentally responsible. We have not only reduced greenhouse gases, but have spurred new technologies, created jobs, pioneered industry standards, and improved the quality of life for all of our residents.”

The new emissions reductions come at a time when San Francisco’s population and economic activity continue to rise. Since 1990, the city’s population has increased by 19 percent and GDP has increased by 78 percent pointing to the success of the City’s comprehensive Climate Action Strategy to curb emissions through innovative public policies, economic incentives, education and outreach, and cross-sector partnerships.

Citywide emissions for electricity, natural gas, transportation, fuel, and waste dropped 28 percent below 1990 levels in 2015. This puts San Francisco two years ahead of its 2017 goal and on track to meet its 40 percent and 80 percent emissions reduction goals by 2025 and 2050, respectively. The 28 percent reduction is equivalent to taking 380,000 cars off the road, or avoiding the burning of four million barrels of oil every year.

The main drivers of the emission reductions observed during the 2015 inventory year were:

  • A scale up of energy efficiency programs that helped push demand for electricity and natural gas. During the period between 2012 and 2016, San Francisco’s Energy Watch program helped more than 3,700 San Francisco commercial and multifamily properties save an average of $3,136 in annual utility bills. 
  • Progressive green building codes and standards in San Francisco resulted in more than 450 buildings achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified between 2004 and 2017. In addition, 42 city-owned buildings became LEED certified between 2004 and 2015, totaling 5.8 million square feet.
  • The electric grid has become cleaner over time due to improvements in PG&E’s renewables portfolio.

While the City’s population and economic activity are projected to increase over the next decade, San Francisco remains on track to reach its 40 percent emission reduction goal by 2025. Mayor Lee and City agencies continue to look at ways to address building energy use and transportation impacts – two sectors with the largest emissions share. Building energy currently accounts for 47 percent of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions while transportation accounts for 46 percent of emissions.

In 2016, Mayor Lee and City officials announced the launch of CleanPowerSF, a program that allows San Francisco residents and businesses to choose 100 percent renewable energy. Last year, San Francisco’s municipal fleet, including Muni buses, fully transitioned to 100 percent renewable diesel, a cleaner burning transportation fuel.

“As we celebrate Earth Day this week, we are showing that San Francisco knows how to walk the talk when it comes to climate action,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of Environment. “Our forward-thinking policies along with new technologies and programs are helping us continue to drive down our emissions. Our challenge now is to sustain these reductions and do even more to reduce our energy use. We encourage residents and businesses to take advantage of the many incentives, rebates, and free services that the Department offers.”

The Department of Environment’s Energy Watch program offers energy efficiency services and financial incentives to qualifying commercial customers and multifamily building owners. In 2012, Energy Watch helped the Cliff House replace over 280 halogen incandescent bulbs with LED lamps and upgraded its refrigeration and controls throughout their facility, which includes two full-service restaurants, two bars, three cocktail lounges, and a banquet area. Through the incentives offered by Energy Watch, the Cliff House was able to realize $20,000 a year in energy cost-savings and pay back the full cost of their upgrade within four months.


For more information about San Francisco’s citywide greenhouse gas emission reductions, visit: