San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell said Thursday the $4 million cost of planting 2,000 new trees will be part of the city's upcoming budget. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
April 19 (UPI) -- San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell announced a series of measures Thursday to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, keeping the California city in line with goals outlined by the Paris Agreement.
Chief among the city's steps will be a project to plant 2,000 trees over the next two years to absorb carbon dioxide. The $4 million price tag on the effort was expected to be worked into the upcoming budget.
"With the Trump administration displaying a stunning lack of guidance on climate change, it is up to cities such as San Francisco to take the leadership mantle of this critical issue," Farrell said during an Earth Day breakfast. "We cannot wait for Washington, D.C., to act -- we owe it to our future generations to take bold climate action. We are accelerating our plan for an emissions-free future now, before it is too late."
Farrell was referring to President Donald Trump's decision in June to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, which seeks to keep the global temperature increase this century to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Nearly 200 countries have signed the pact.
Within a day of Trump's announcement, a coalition of U.S. cities, states and companies announced they would continue to work with the United Nations to meet carbon emission goals. In September, San Francisco is scheduled to host the Global Climate Action Summit for government leaders, businesspeople, scientists and students representing the jurisdictions and organizations that have committed to the Paris Agreement.
In addition to the tree-planting project, Farrell said the city plans to make 80 percent of all travel in the city by a sustainable mode of transit.
Farrell cited statistics that say since 1990, San Francisco's greenhouse gas emissions have gone down by 29 percent even though the population has increased by 20 percent. In that time, the economy increased by 111 percent, he said.
"San Francisco is debunking the myth that a healthy economy cannot exist with a healthy environment," he said.
Getting in on the action is San Francisco-based ride-hailing company Lyft, which announced Thursday plans to make all rides carbon neutral globally.
"In the future all vehicles will operate with clean energy. But climate change is not waiting. It's happening now, and it presents a clear and immediate threat to our world and those who live in it. Action cannot wait," Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green said in a post on Medium.
The company said in the first year of the effort, it anticipates offsetting more than a million metric tons of carbon -- the equivalent of planting tens of millions of trees. They plan to do this by funding emission reduction in the auto manufacturing process, forestry projects and the capture of emissions from landfills.
About 134 million people -- roughly one-fifth of the U.S. population -- live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution, data from the American Lung Association's State of the Air report showed Wednesday.
Although ozone pollution worsened significantly due to warmer temperatures, particulate matter like dust and soot continued to improve, ALA researchers said.
The number of cars on the road in the United States continues to rise, but their general pollution levels have reduced because of tougher emission standards.
"We had more days of unhealthy days for ozone. But we began to look at why and found it was the second hottest year on record," Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy at the ALA, told UPI. "Ozone doesn't come out of a tailgate or a smokestack, it cooks in the atmosphere."