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San José Becomes One of First American Cities to Approve Paris-Compliant Climate Plan

San José City Council unanimously approves Climate Smart San José, setting the City on a trajectory to meeting ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets defined in the Paris Agreement

San José, Calif. – Today, Mayor Sam Liccardo and the City Council voted unanimously to approve Climate Smart San Jose: one of the first municipal climate plans that outlines a path to meeting the Paris Agreement’s ambitious sustainability goals.

“President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement last year triggered a clarion call for local climate leadership across the U.S.,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Today’s vote to approve Climate Smart San Jose marks the start of a long-term, collaborative effort to embrace this responsibility, and act proactively to reduce GHG emissions, secure a sustainable water supply, and make San Jose a brighter, cleaner, and more inclusive place to live.”

The community-focused plan – built off San Jose’s longstanding leadership in sustainability, after a year of community and stakeholder engagement – employs a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to address the largest drivers of greenhouse gas emissions, namely energy and mobility. It also prioritizes actions that will help San Jose create a much more sustainable water supply.

“Building on the 2007 Green Vision Plan, the new Climate Smart San José plan will take us even further by providing environmental choices for residents, businesses, and stakeholders to take so that together we can reach its ambitious goals,” said Kerrie Romanow, San José Environmental Services director. “I’m excited that Climate Smart is a people-centered plan so that we can cultivate a lower-carbon city and live a sustainable and good life.”

Along with its unanimous approval, the City Council directed the City administration to begin moving aggressively to implement certain elements of Climate Smart San José. This included recommendations to: develop an electric vehicle strategy to enhance charging infrastructure, create policies and programs to spur commercial building energy-efficiency initiatives, and most notably, focus on achieving a successful roll-out of San José Clean Energy. Set to launch later this year, the community choice energy program will offer residents and businesses the option to purchase clean, renewable energy at rates competitive with private utilities.

“Cutting energy waste in commercial buildings is one of the most effective ways cities can combat climate change in their own backyards,” said Kimi Narita, deputy director of the City Energy Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “San José’s plan sets strong milestones to achieve what it calls ‘the Good Life 2.0’—making buildings more energy efficient while creating high-quality local jobs, stimulating the economy, and reducing costs for businesses and residents at the same time. We look forward to collaborating with the city and local partners to make this plan for commercial buildings a reality.”

In adopting the Climate Smart San José Plan, the City Council also expressed its commitment to ensuring the plan and its campaigns are both inclusive, and reflective of San José’s diversity. This direction included recommendations to identify options to finance solar and energy efficiency improvements for low and modest income households.

“This is a plan for San José’s diverse community – our ultimate success in implementing Climate Smart will not only be judged by how effectively we curb our GHG-emissions, but by how we broaden the benefits of the green economy so that our most vulnerable resident can access the green dividend,” added Mayor Liccardo.

Moving forward, the City will continue to engage the entire community to meet some of Climate Smart San José’s most ambitious targets:

  • By 2021, San José will make 100 percent GHG emission-free electricity available to all San Jose Clean Energy users.
  • By 2030, San José will reduce carbon emissions from vehicular trips by 1 million tons/year by facilitating the expansion of ridesharing, electric vehicles, and public transit in the city.
  • By 2030, San José will reduce per capita residential water consumption by 30 percent.
  • By 2040, San José will become the first city in the world to produce 1 gigawatt of solar power (which is enough to power the equivalent of 250,000 homes).

“I applaud San Jose for its effective Climate Smart Plan that sets a goal, and clear targets, for meeting the Paris Agreement,” said C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Regional Director David Miller. “Cities have a critical role to play in advancing the global climate agenda. The C40 works with the words leading cities, to share best practices, and support policy and program development to advance this important work.”

In the spirit of embracing and committing to proactive climate action, in addition to approving Climate Smart, the City Council also voted to adopt new Transportation Analysis Policy, becoming one of the first and largest California cities to shift its method of calculating environmental impact under CEQA to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) – which will help facilitate the City’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions build a people-centered city.

Since its initial release on February 15th, the Plan has received praise from area experts, climate advocates, and community-based organizations alike:

Prospect Silicon Valley looks forward to supporting both the City and the community in the implementation of this comprehensive, well thought out plan,” said Prospect Silicon Valley Executive Director, and former Obama-appointee Ruth Cox.

“The Open Space Authority applauds the leadership of the City of San José for developing a bold vision to meet the Paris Accord’s climate goals that includes the Climate Smart’s strategies outlined in the Plan, and makes recommendations to bring in the climate benefits of our natural and working lands as a next step,” said Marc Landgraf from OSA

“Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV) supports Climate Smart San José’s people-centered plan for a low-carbon city,” said Sustainable Silicon Valley Executive Director Jennifer Thompson.

“The City has a robust start to a sustainable future based on achieving specific programs for a transition to use of renewables and a low carbon future,” said Mary Collins, President of League of Women Voters, in San Jose and Santa Clara. “We applaud the adoption of metrics as a filter for measuring outcomes and facilitating review and evaluation.  We commend the plans for community engagement and look forward to supporting this commitment to community involvement and education.  We support efforts to be fiscally responsible in funding these new programs and in offering services that are financially accessible to the many income levels that make up San José.”

“As parents, we understand the vital importance of protecting our climate and water supply,” said Mothers Out Front South Bay member Linda Hutchinson-Knowles. “We support the goal of moving swiftly toward 100 percent renewable energy in San José.”

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