What Good Are Regional Climate Compacts? Cali Cities Aim to Find Out

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As lawmakers in Washington, D.C., gear up for a battle over climate legislation, the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose on the other coast have joined hands to coordinate city policies for clean energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water use and waste, and to generally “increase resiliency to the impacts of climate change.”

For the Bay Area, that means figuring out how to deal with more frequent severe flooding and a sea level rise of up to three feet by the year 2100 (read: two airports and much of Silicon Valley underwater), according to studies from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

bay-area-mayors-agassiMayors Ron Dellums of Oakland, Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and Chuck Reed of San Jose (who also came together late last year to try to facilitate buildout of Better Place electric vehicle charging infrastructure, pictured left with Shai Agassi), made the regional compact official this afternoon, signing a Bay Area Climate Change Compact at the Silicon Valley campus of smart grid developer Silver Spring Networks. Despite the smart grid-centered setting, the agreement’s 10 specific targets focus mainly on transportation, buildings and green jobs.

Cleaner forms of transportation are especially important for the Bay Area if it wants to make a dent in its greenhouse gas emissions, since the sector makes up a larger portion of total emissions there than it does in California and globally. Today’s regional compact calls for a 3 percent drop in gas consumption by the end of 2013 and an 8 percent cut by the end of 2018.

Part of the strategy for reaching those goals is a big push for zero- and ultra-low emission vehicles in municipal fleets. The mayors set 5- and 10-year benchmarks for this goal, too, aiming to increase the number of clean fleet cars to 10 percent of municipal fleets by the end of 2013, and to 25 percent by the end of 2018.


The three mayors ran an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle today, saying the agreement:

will help restore economic prosperity, as the innovative companies in the Bay Area continue to be world leaders in the technologies and products that will usher in a green economy.

They emphasize in their column that today’s agreement is not a dramatic leap forward. Rather, they say, it’s “a multiplier — enhancing coordination and achieving economies of scale” across a region that already has programs in place (in one city or another) for green jobs training, solar panel installations and waste reduction.

Graphic courtesy San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission

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