San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman introduced a resolution at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting Feb. 26 to declare a “climate emergency” in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.
The resolution calls for the city’s Department of the Environment to work with the mayor’s office and other city agencies to develop a report on the immediate steps the city can take to address climate change.
It also calls for a Board of Supervisors public hearing to discuss actions the city can take to drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, Mandelman’s resolution calls for supervisors to help Mayor London Breed develop a budget that supports climate emergency actions and avoids investing in fossil fuel-reliant infrastructure.
“The tides are rising and we’re going to have eight additional feet of ocean in the bay in the next hundred years,” Mandelman said at a news conference Feb. 26 announcing the resolution.
“A lot of that is inevitable and we can’t do anything about it. The question is, in addition to the tens of billions of dollars we’re going to have to spend to protect our existing communities, are we going to have anything to protect, or will we allow climate change to go so far that there is no chance for humanity at all?” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll get some change in Washington and the U.S. can go back to being a leader on climate, but until our national government is willing to do it, it’s up to our state and local governments to do that,” he said.
“We know the science is abundantly clear, we know we’re going to have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We cannot afford to wait, we cannot afford to kick the can down the road. We’ve got to take urgent decisive action now,” said Debbie Raphael, director of the city’s Department of the Environment.
“The impacts of climate change are going to disproportionately impact those who can least respond to those impacts: women, communities of color, low-income communities. And that’s true around the globe. It’s also true in San Francisco,” Raphael said.
“San Francisco is such a forward-thinking city and we’ve done so much, but I think that in order to internalize it for our citizens that this is really urgent and it’s serious, we need to say it’s an emergency,” said 17-year-old Kristen Tam, part of the group Youth Vs Apocalypse, made up of teen climate activists.
“As you see from the fires, we’re all affected by climate change not just in our city, but worldwide. Whatever we pollute, it affects someone else. So we need to make sure that we’re doing our part and setting an example for everyone else,” Tam said.
The resolution follows similar ones that have passed in other Bay Area cities, such as Berkeley, Hayward, Richmond and Oakland.
The resolution is being co-sponsored by Supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer, Gordon Mar, Vallie Brown and Matt Haney.