San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building (Photo credit: Eugene Berman)

San Francisco Considers Declaring 'Climate Emergency'

Margie Shafer
February 26, 2019 - 4:23 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — Flood, drought, wildfire, extreme heat, and trees dying by the millions: California has endured seemingly biblical impacts from an increasingly chaotic climate. In response, the city of San Francisco is on the verge of declaring a climate emergency.

The city would join other Bay Area cities if the board of supervisors approves the resolution introduced Tuesday by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

“On our current path, projections show up to eight feet of sea level rise in the Bay over the next hundred years,” said Mandelman, as he was flanked by members of environmental organizations. “But even at three feet, we know the Ferry Building will be flooding twice a day, and the Embarcadero, Mission Bay and Marina will all be at risk.”

The resolution also calls on the city to outline and fund immediate steps to ward off catastrophe.

San Francisco would join Hayward, Richmond, and Oakland in declaring the emergency.

In his speech, Mandelman outlined some of the impacts already hitting the city, including the planned closure of two lanes of the Great Highway due to rising tides.

“We know we will have to find billions, and likely tens of billions of dollars to make the infrastructure investments necessary to protect the city from climate change impacts that are already inevitable,” he said.

Climate Mobilization’s Dr. Jan Kirsch called climate change the greatest threat to public health ever faced by humanity. Kirsch said that “emergency” may sound dire, but “extinction” is even worse. “San Francisco stands up for prevention of that dire prognosis,” she said.

A recent United Nations report concluded that civilization has approximately 12 years to ward off the most catastrophic effects of warming, and progressive lawmakers have been rallying behind a package of measures known as the Green New Deal.

San Francisco, Marin County and other Bay Area jurisdictions recently sued several fossil fuel companies seeking damages for the companies’ contributions to global warming. However, transportation accounts for the highest share of the state’s emissions, and many of those same jurisdictions have failed to build adequate housing within and near job-producing urban centers.

State Senator Scott Weiner and other lawmakers have pushed for legislation that would make it easier to build housing near public transit to help reduce California’s dependency on automobiles.

Written by Jordan Bowen