By Bruce Naegel  February 2017


On February 15, Mayor Sam Liccardo held a press conference announcing San José’s Climate Smart plan. With television coverage from ABC (1) and CBS (2), he presented San José’s path to the Paris Climate Accord.    San José will present the Climate Smart plan at a town meeting Feb 20 from 7 to 8:30 in Council Chambers. The Council will vote on the plan on Feb 27.


Press Conferen

Crowd at Press Conference for San Jose’s Climate Smart Program.


San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo

Kerrie Romanow, Director of Environmental Services

, Chief Sustainability officer for San Jose, salutes the many people who helped assemble the  Climate Smart Plan.

Can I read the Climate Smart plan?

Yes, you can find the full Climate Smart plan, an executive summary, and key points at the link below. You can also provide feedback using the questionnaire. (3).

Listing the key points to the Climate Smart plan:

  • Transition to a renewable energy future
    · Embrace our California climate
    · Densify our city to accommodate our future neighbors
    · Make homes efficient and affordable for families
    · Create clean, personalized mobility choices
    · Develop integrated, accessible public transport infrastructure
    · Create local jobs in our city to reduce vehicle miles traveled
    · Improve our commercial building stock
    · Make commercial goods movement clean and efficient

How do these actions relate to Climate Change?

We must move to an economy that does not put Green House Gases (GHGs) in the air when creating or consuming energy.

First, we start with carbon neutral electricity. We look to the local CCA (Community Choice Aggregator), San José Clean Energy. By 2021, San José Clean Energy will offer 100 percent Greenhouse Gas Free power as a base product. Renewable energy (e.g. Wind and Solar) continue to drop in price. This makes the transition easier.

We then power everything with this clean source of power.

We focus first on transportation.  Transportation produces close to 60% of the GHG output once one has carbon neutral electricity.  The Climate Smart plan supports more electric vehicles with more charging stations. It also supports other transportation choices (e.g. more mass transit, ride sharing, autonomous vehicles).

After transportation, we need to reduce the GHG content of our buildings. The Climate Smart plan states all San Jose buildings will be all electric by 2050. means by 2050   The plan also calls for one GW of solar electricity in San Jose by 2040. The efficiency of Zero Net Energy buildings (required by state law) helps to achieve GHG goals.

Managing water with a growing population is a challenge.  The plan calls for reducing per person water consumption so the city can continue to grow.

Good Life 2.0 and Climate Smart

A sustainable future means we need to be more efficient.  The post WW2 era presented the “good life” as a suburban home where the automobile is the primary mode of transportation. This led to low housing density. We need denser housing to accommodate the expected growth in population. San José is projected to add 319,000 people in 2050.

When population densities go up, there are many benefits. First, mass transit works better. More shopping trips can be walked or biked to. Work can be closer to the homes, meaning more time with friends and family.  This restructuring is how we can deliver Good Life 2.0 along with significantly reducing GHGs.  San Jose will create special development zones for this new experience.

Does any city have Good Life 2.0 today?

The World Happiness Report 2017 lists the countries that are the happiest (4).
Denmark ranks #2 on this list and the Netherlands ranks #6. Copenhagen, Denmark, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands represent ecologically aware cities with the Good Life 2.0.  The US came in at #14 in this survey.

What questions did Mayor Liccardo answer?

The first reporter asked about this plan and Washington. Mayor Liccardo answered that the US has traditionally been the driver addressing climate change. Unfortunately, the current president wants to lead in fossil fuel development. This is instead of addressing climate change.

Cities now must take responsibility for addressing climate change.  Organizations like the Climate Mayors (5) signed to uphold the Paris Accord. In December 2017, 392 cities across the US signed on.

The second reporter asked what will enable the plan to go forward?  Mayor Liccardo discussed the broad support in the community for this plan. Over 1000 people played a part in building this plan.  The plan includes all the constituents in San José.  Making it easier for wealthy people to buy Tesla automobiles is not the purpose.
How did the Climate Smart plan come about?

This is effort that started over a year ago. There were many key players in getting this plan in place. One is Chief Sustainability Officer Kerrie Romanov. The full draft plan lists the contributing authors. Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) contributed their expertise after their work on sustainability plans for New York City and Los Angeles. SSV contributed. Mothers Out Front, led by Linda Hutcins-Knowles were early on supporters of the plan. San Jose Community Energy is the advocate group that helped drive San Jose Clean Energy into being.

Sustainable Silicon Valley Personnel   Drew Clark, Jennifer Thompson, Greg Larkins, and Mary Biswal smile here with Sam Liccardo at  the Climate Smart unveiling.

Mothers Out Front
Linda Hutchins-Knowles (center) and Mothers Out Front



What are the next steps?

The plan is due for approval by the council on September 27.  Once approved, there is the hard work over the next 32 years (until 2050) to get this work done.  The detailed plan contains intermediate milestones for each of the key areas where GHG is measured.  We must keep watching how the plan develops. San Jose has put in place monitoring. We can see when we are succeeding and when we need to change to succeed.