Analysis Highlights Tricky Business of Carbon Accounting

San Francisco’s carbon footprint as political football

Craig Miller / KQED

As business and public entities face more pressure to lower their carbon footprints, an entire industry has sprouted to quantify and verify their progress. The whole enterprise can be tricky business, as San Francisco officials are finding out.

Props to The Bay Citizen for looking beyond the claims and doing its own analysis. As John Upton writes in Citizen:

“…some energy experts and environmentalists have raised questions about the city’s calculations. Although San Francisco has taken significant steps to shrink its carbon footprint, these critics said, the numbers are misleading, and the end result is not nearly as green as the city claims.”

Specifically, TBC looked into the claim that the City and County of San Francisco has cut its carbon emissions by 12% since 1990, driven mostly by the shutdown of two gas-fired power plants in the city. The article features a graph that shows its own tracking of greenhouse gas emissions clocking in well below the City’s estimates.

San Francisco was given high ratings recently in at least one independent study, for its “political leadership and commitment” to climate planning.