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Report: San Francisco not meeting greenhouse gas emissions goal

"The climate change problem
is predicted to cause such great catastrophes"

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Ananda Shorey

July 10, 2007

San Francisco won't meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 unless it significantly accelerates it efforts, according to a report the County of San Francisco Civil Grand Jury has released.

"We are not on track,'' said Shirley Hansen, a Civil Grand Jury member. "In order to meet this goal, we will have to triple our efforts now for the next five years."

The Civil Grand Jury's report outlines what San Francisco has and hasn't accomplished and provides recommendations about what needs to be done to reduce emissions.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in 2002 setting a goal for the city and county of San Francisco to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions. In 2004, the Department of the Environment and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission published a Climate Action Plan.

Although some progress is being made due to the Department of Environment's efforts, the target won't be met unless San Francisco works faster, according to the report.

"The climate change problem is predicted to cause such great catastrophes if we don't address it,'' Hansen said.

One reason the city hasn't accomplished its goals is because the San Francisco Municipal Railway is under-funded, Hansen said.

Muni's diesel buses produce a lot of the city's carbon emissions. With the money that is available, the agency is working on replacing the oldest diesels with alternative fuel buses and is moving toward fleet-wide use of electric vehicles, according to the report.

The federal government isn't providing adequate assistance for such efforts, Hansen said.

"The federal government is out to lunch on this issue.''

Muni fares could be increased to provide money for needed changes, but officials are concerned that would encourage residents to drive their cars, Hansen said.

The Civil Grand Jury recommended implementing congestion pricing in its report, which would require drivers to pay a fee to enter the city.

It also recommended that drivers be encouraged to buy hybrids. The Taxi Commission recently mandated that all of its vehicles in San Francisco are hybrids by 2012, Hansen said.

Addressing climate change is important because of the threats it presents to the city, according to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Climate changes could lead to rising sea levels, which could threaten low-lying areas such as Mission Bay, AT&T and Candlestick parks, San Francisco International Airport and Treasure Island, Newsom has said.

The Civil Grand Jury submitted the report to a number of agencies, including the Municipal Transportation Agency Board, the Department of Parking and Traffic and the Department of Environment, which have 60 days from today to respond.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors then will receive the report and will have 90 days to respond.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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