Palo Alto’s Climate Leadership

October 2017

Palo Alto’s Climate Leadership

2017 Beacon Award Winners

Palo Alto Receives Top Award for Climate Change Leadership

Last month, Palo Alto was recognized at the League of California Cities Conference & Expo in Sacramento as the first city in California to achieve a Platinum Level Beacon Award – the highest level possible – for its leadership in addressing climate change. Mayor Greg Scharff accepted the honor in recognition of the City’s achievements. The award is a testament to our staff’s good work, and our community’s commitment to sustainability and its place as a core value of our citizens. Thank you all for your contributions to helping us achieve measurable greenhouse gas reductions and energy savings. Read about the award and our historic achievement here.

Traffic Bike

The Benefits of Not Driving Alone

The population of Palo Alto more than doubles each workday, with tens of thousands of employees driving to work in our city. Since transportation accounts for an estimated two-thirds of Palo Alto’s greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging commuters to either carpool or take public transit has proven economic and environmental benefits.

Getting people to recognize the benefits of not driving alone is one of the reasons why Palo Alto established the Transportation Management Association (TMA) in January 2016 with the goal of reducing solo commuting into downtown Palo Alto by 30 percent. These strategies seem to be paying off, according to a recent Downtown Palo Alto Mode Share Survey.

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Palo Alto and Sustainability News of interest

Sustainability at City Council

On June 5, staff presented the Draft 2017-2020 Sustainability Implementation Plan (SIP) and the 2017 Earth Day Report to City Council. Council directed staff to return with a more tightly focused 2018-2020 SIP. The more targeted plan, which will focus on four key areas – energy, mobility, electric vehicles, and water - will be presented to Council in December.

The meeting agenda will be posted here. We hope you'll join us.

The First Carbon Neutral Utility?

Since 2013, Palo Alto has provided 100% carbon neutral electricity and, as of July 1, 2017, we also provide 100% carbon neutral natural gas. Carbon neutral means that we are investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions more economically than we can; as a result, no net emissions are released into the atmosphere. For more information, including a fantastic new video, please visit

Rail and the California Economy

A recent report released by Caltrans, titled "Rail and the California Economy", found that Caltrain is one of the busiest commuter rail systems in the country and can transport enough people to eliminate the need to construct two highway lanes in each direction between San Francisco and San Jose. The report also noted that the number of people riding Caltrain each year is equivalent to taking 10,000 vehicles off the road or keeping 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the environment