San Francisco Adopts New Climate Action Goals
Mayor London Breed’s legislation is a comprehensive update to the City’s Environment Code and sets new targets for reducing emissions 61% by 2030 and becoming a net-zero city by 2040
San Francisco, CA — The City of San Francisco today adopted new climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the urgent threat of climate change. San Francisco has made significant progress on its climate action goals to-date, including a 41% reduction in emissions six years ahead of schedule. Building on that success, Mayor London N. Breed introduced legislation to increase San Francisco’s ambition and set new science-based targets that are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement. Today, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the legislation, which was co-sponsored by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.
Included in the legislation is the goal to become a net-zero emissions city by 2040 and other significant updates to Chapter 9 of the City’s Environment Code. With this new legislation, San Francisco is continuing its leadership on climate policy and adopting some of the most ambitious climate and emissions reduction goals of any city in the world. The updated Environment Code now includes climate action targets in six major areas: energy, transportation, housing, buildings, zero waste, and roots. The legislation creates an actionable framework for the development and implementation of San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan, which will be released later this year. Notably, the Climate Action Plan must specify how the City can achieve those goals while addressing racial and social inequities.
“San Francisco has long been a national and international leader on climate action and environmental policies, with programs like CleanPowerSF and requiring new construction to be all-electric,” said Mayor London Breed. “Now we must build on these successes and push even further, because our future depends on it. These new, bold targets put us on track to reduce our emissions more quickly—with the urgency that climate change demands and with social and racial equity at the forefront of our work.”
The updates to the Environment Code set new targets for sector-based greenhouse gas emissions, which are the emissions generated within the City:
- By 2030, reduce sector-based greenhouse gas emissions by 61% below 1990 levels, and
- By 2040, reach net-zero sector-based emissions and sequester any residual emissions using nature-based solutions.
For the first time, San Francisco is also setting initial targets for consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions, which are emissions that occur throughout the supply chain of goods consumed in San Francisco. San Francisco is now one of the only cities in the world to have consumption-based targets.
“The climate crisis is upon us, as made painfully clear by extreme drought and wildfires ravaging California,” said Supervisor Mandelman, who authored San Francisco’s Climate Emergency Resolution in 2019 and passed an ordinance last year requiring all-electric construction in new buildings. “The climate action goals we adopted today commit San Francisco to our shared vision of achieving a zero-carbon future as soon as possible."
With this legislation, San Francisco is formally adopting a climate action framework called “0-80-100-Roots,” where “0” refers to a goal of zero waste, “80” refers to a goal of 80% low-carbon trips, “100” refers to a goal of 100% renewable energy, and “Roots” refers to sequestering carbon through natural systems. To reach the new emissions reduction targets and goals of the 0-80-100-Roots framework, the updated Environment Code specifies the following climate action goals in six key areas:
- Zero Waste: By 2030, a reduction in the generation of solid waste of at least 15% below 2015 levels and a reduction in the amount of solid waste disposed of by incineration or deposit in landfill of at least 50% below 2015 levels;
- Transportation: By 2030, an increase in low-carbon trips to at least 80% of all trips measured and an increase in the level of electrification of vehicles to at least 25% of all private vehicles registered, and by 2040, an increase in the level of electrification of vehicles to 100% of all private vehicles registered;
- Energy: By 2025, supplying 100% renewable electricity, and by 2040, supplying 100% renewable energy;
- Housing: Building at least 5,000 new housing units per year with maximum affordability, including not less than 30% affordable units, and with an emphasis on retaining and rehabilitating existing housing;
- Buildings: By 2021, requiring zero onsite fossil fuel emissions from all new buildings, and by 2035, requiring zero onsite fossil fuel emissions from all large existing commercial buildings; and
- Roots: Sequestering carbon through ecosystem restoration, including increased urban tree canopy, green infrastructure, and compost application.
As specified in Mayor Breed’s legislation, all of these climate action goals must also include complementary goals of advancing racial and social equity; protecting public health, including the health needs of vulnerable populations; increasing community resilience; and fostering a more just economy.
“San Francisco achieved a historic milestone today, but we wouldn’t have been able to commit to these new, ambitious targets without the support of our residents and businesses who continue to lead on the environment,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the Department of the Environment. “There’s no greater time to showcase how cities can partner with our communities to advance environmental justice for all.”
The ordinance also requires the City to prepare a Climate Action Plan by the end of 2021. The Plan, which serves as the roadmap for achieving the reductions required by law, must include an equity framework that will address historic racial and social inequities; prioritize social, economic, and environmental benefits derived from implementing the Plan; and ensure an equitable distribution of those benefits. The Department of Environment has been developing this Climate Action Plan with input from the community and stakeholders, and it will include specific actions to reduce emissions in six sectors: energy supply, transportation and land use, building operations, housing, responsible production and consumption, and healthy ecosystems.
San Francisco continues to make progress on initiatives that will help the City achieve these new targets, including reducing emissions from office buildings and homes, promoting transit, transitioning to zero-emission transportation, and eliminating waste. San Francisco is also engaged with global partners in the fight against climate change as a member of C40, the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, and the Climate Mayors.