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Global WarmingFunding & Financing San Francisco’s Ambitious Climate Motion Plan

Funding & Financing San Francisco’s Ambitious Climate Motion Plan

Funding & Financing San Francisco’s Ambitious Climate Motion Plan

Latest CLEE evaluation recommends revenue, equity, and implementation measures for city climate motion

Cities are leaders in climate policy and planning, and lots of cities have developed local climate motion plans (CAPs) that envision strategies to cut back emissions and increase resilience in a changing climate. A whole bunch of local governments in California have adopted such plans, starting from dense Bay Area cities to rural Central Valley counties. Nevertheless, few of those cities have built detailed strategies to advance equity goals–and even fewer have discovered how they’ll fund their ambitious climate investments. A latest CLEE evaluation for San Francisco lays out a framework for equitable CAP revenue generation and implementation. 

San Francisco’s CAP envisions a sustainable and equitable climate future. The CAP, released in 2021, details emissions reduction strategies across six categories: energy supply, constructing decarbonization, transportation and land use, housing, green infrastructure, and waste reduction. Inside these categories, the CAP puts forth 31 strategies and 159 actions to attain net-zero emissions citywide by 2040 while rooting decisions in racial and social equity, economic opportunity, public health, and community resilience. 

These actions range from investing in energetic transportation infrastructure and increasing inexpensive housing near transit to decarbonizing buildings and supporting green construction apprenticeship programs. Some actions are ambitious but easy to examine (like restoring wetland habitats and improving urban forests) while others are less tangible (for instance, advocating for state and federal regulations to limit refrigerants with high global warming potential). If implemented, the total suite of actions described within the CAP will solidify San Francisco as an progressive and impressive climate leader and can reduce citywide emissions substantially. 

But proposing ambitious actions is just step one; the City’s vision can’t be realized without sustained revenue streams to pay for implementation. Over the approaching a long time, San Francisco might want to secure tens of billions of dollars to deploy the emissions reduction plan set forth within the CAP. While one-time and short-term funding sources—comparable to federal and state grants like those codified by the Inflation Reduction Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the California State Budget—will provide crucial resources, the City concurrently must generate diverse and sustained revenue to make sure delivery of its climate vision through 2040 and beyond. 

CLEE’s latest report analyzes funding and financing strategies to generate sufficient revenue for San Francisco’s CAP implementation. The San Francisco Department of the Environment engaged CLEE to evaluate potential revenue-raising mechanisms and recommend priority actions. CLEE engaged nearly 100 community stakeholders, climate finance and policy experts, and City staff to grasp priorities and best-fit strategies. Drawing from interviews and two small group workshops, the report recommends a gaggle of immediate- and medium-term revenue generation mechanisms, alongside quite a lot of priorities for implementing the CAP (comparable to city staffing and coordination) and ensuring equity (including oversight councils and impact assessments). The City can mix and match the recommendations because it sees fit.

Example recommendations include:

  • Proposing and passing general obligation bonds for constructing decarbonization, housing, and transportation, contingent upon a rise within the City’s existing general obligation bond limits. For instance, the funds from a constructing decarbonization bond may very well be invested in a set of programs to fund retrofit grants for lower-income residents and multifamily buildings and support financing for moderate- and upper-income residents.
  • Instituting downtown vehicle congestion pricing, as cities like London and Stockholm have done, with exemptions or discounts for low-income residents.
  • Engaging residents of high-need communities in participatory processes to discover high-priority targets for initial investments for a committed portion of the revenue generated.

Because the climate crisis intensifies, cities across the globe face an identical challenge: drastically reduce emissions on a rapid timeline while allocating limited budgets and staff resources. And city leaders must achieve this delicate balance while addressing a plethora of other urgent social challenges and redressing historical inequitable outcomes which have exacerbated climate change. Some cities, like Malmö in Sweden, have woven sustainability goals into City budget processes, thus reducing the barriers between vision and motion. Creative funding, equity, and governance solutions are the important thing to unlocking San Francisco’s zero-emission future in only 18 years. 

Louise Bedsworth, Ted Lamm, and Ross Zelen contributed to this post. See CLEE’s report here.


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