Protecting Our Climate and Environment

Palo Alto has been an influential leader in addressing climate change, recycling, protecting our natural environment, and preparing for resilience.

While on the city council, I led in making our electricity 100% carbon-free at 30% lower cost than PG&E, one of the first cities globally to do so. Our success has been used as a model by many other cities, resulting in climate impacts highly leveraging our impacts.

I’ve been a champion for preserving our natural habitat, increasing recycling of water and solid waste, and preparing to be resilient; and I was the key Council driver of our ground-breaking Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP) and its 80/30 goal of 80% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 2030.

“Burt has also been one of the council's leaders on sustainability, having championed the city's adoption of a carbon-free electricity portfolio, it's increased spending on bike improvements and flood-control improvements around the San Francisquito Creek.” (Palo Alto Weekly 10/2/2020)

We’ve also achieved a powerful culture change around biking and school commutes, with 68% of PAUSD students choosing to walk, bike, use transit, or carpool to school thanks to the Safe Routes to School program that I strongly supported on the PTC and Council.

My City Council actions:

  • Represented the city at the COP 16 Climate Conference and the COP 21 Paris Climate Accord in 2015
  • Chaired the San Francisquito Creek flood control agency
  • Lead our Sustainability Summit and far-reaching Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP) adoption
  • Served on the County Emergency Preparedness Council
  • Established the city’s CLEAN local solar program
  • Launched and Chaired the Advanced Water Recycling task force with the Santa Clara Valley Water District

My commitment to the environment has bridged the private and public sectors for over 20 years:

  • California EPA Pollution Prevention Task Force
  • California Comparative Risk Project
  • Santa Clara County Pollution Prevention Committee
  • Vice-Chair of Sustainable San Mateo County

But there’s more to do. Since I left the Council in 2017, we have fallen behind meeting our 80/30 climate protection goals.

“Pat has been a critical leader in our environmental and climate protection accomplishments, including low-cost, 100% clean energy, making Palo Alto a model for other cities.” - Peter Drekmeier, Former Mayor of Palo Alto and Acterra co-founder

The global pandemic response has shown us that societies are capable of working together to overcome great challenges. As we emerge from our current crisis, we must tackle the greatest challenge facing us and future generations, protecting our climate. With real commitment, we can have impacts beyond our city boundaries by meeting our climate goals and putting us on a path toward a truly sustainable future.