Thinking globally in the Bay Area
Article originally appeared in SF Gate.
By Ron Dellums, Gavin Newsom and Chuck Reed
Today, the three of us, the mayors of the Bay Area’s largest cities, have a challenge to put before the Bay Area – its businesses, local governments and regional agencies. Join us in working together against twin threats, global climate change and a weakening economy, by becoming part of the Bay Area Climate Change Collaborative.
To mark our joint commitment, we’ll be putting our signatures on a contract, a blueprint for climate change action, with 10 specific and measurable goals, and a timetable for reaching them, that will put our cities – and the region – firmly on a path to environmental sustainability.
At the same time, it 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.
We have set goals and will benchmark our progress toward fewer fossil fuels in transportation; more solar and other alternative sources of electricity; less trash and more recyclable material; more efficient buildings; water conservation; and a workforce trained to make it all happen.
These goals will not take us in a dramatic new direction. They don’t need to. Bay Area cities, businesses and residents have been happy to step to the fore to combat global climate change.
San Jose’s Green Vision is a roadmap to becoming the world’s center of clean tech innovation and creating 25,000 green jobs. Goals include reducing per capita energy use by 50 percent and receiving 100 percent of electrical power from clean renewable sources.
San Francisco has adopted aggressive green building standards, recycles zealously (70 percent of waste), and has converted its entire diesel vehicle fleet to biodiesel, buses and emergency vehicles included.
Oakland’s Green Jobs Corps is training local residents to succeed in the new green economy, and the City’s Zero Waste Plan provides a framework for eliminating waste by 2020.
What makes the compact remarkable is its formal commitment to unite these efforts, to take advantage of our collective wisdom and resources. The collaboration is a multiplier – enhancing coordination and achieving economies of scale.
Let’s look at where we live as if from outer space. While politically the Bay Area is divided into scores of cities, on the landscape, we’re essentially one huge metropolis. In living, working, shopping, commuting and recreating, Bay Area residents take no particular notice of city boundaries. The power grid, the water lines, the highways and many transit systems are the circulatory system for a single urban area. Pollution in the bay or smog in the air touches us all.
In figuring out how to live lightly on the planet, we need to think as we live – as one region. Transit and clean air are two obvious examples of regional issues. But consider what might at first seem an individual decision – buying an electric car. It’s a personal choice for extraordinarily clean transportation. But electric cars have to be plugged in, and not just at home – at municipal parking garages and in office parking lots, wherever the driver needs to go in the Bay Area.
As mayors, we couldn’t be doing this without private businesses such as Webcor Builders constructing green buildings, or Silver Spring Networks making the electric grid smarter. Or without nonprofits such as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Bay Area Council and Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network.
We’re all in this together. By signing this compact today, we’re issuing a friendly challenge to one another to be the greenest city around. But it’s not just us. We challenge all the other cities in the Bay Area: Let’s take this path together. Today, we roll out the green carpet encouraging each community, each city, each company in the Bay Area to join us.