San Luis Obispo Mayor Challenges Cities Nationwide to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2035

For years, scientists have been warning about the negative impact greenhouse gas emissions have on the environment, but an alarming new report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores the dire need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC recommended “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes” to prevent environmental disaster. Mayor Heidi Harmon of San Luis Obispo, California is taking this call to action seriously.

On September 18, the City of San Luis Obispo started down the path to carbon neutrality by 2035 — 10 years earlier than the state of California’s already ambitious plan. Mayor Harmon is calling on all cities across the nation to adopt the same goal.

“The report that just came out makes it clear — painfully clear — that we need to take bold, decisive action on carbon neutrality,” Harmon said in a recent video statement. “The City of San Luis Obispo has made the most ambitious carbon neutrality goal of any city in the United States. I am inviting my fellow mayors… to join us.”

In a unanimous vote, the city council agreed to move forward and directed staff to adopt concrete steps to reach the 2035 goal, which will be outlined in the city’s formal Climate Action Plan next year. Regarding the reason for this bold plan, Mayor Harmon said “going slow is the same as doing nothing. We as mayors are called to protect the health and safety of our community and there is no greater danger to that health and safety than climate catastrophe.”

The City of San Luis Obispo reduced carbon emissions by 10% since 2005. While Harmon has been mayor, the city has also moved to pursue Community Choice Energy and has increased multimodal transportation options through creating additional bicycle boulevards and facilitating the development of housing closer to job centers in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Mayor Heidi Harmon is a longtime environmental activist who is committed to enhancing community resilience through energy efficiency and sustainability in our changing environment. She is a grassroots leader not only focused on climate change, but also income inequality and campaign finance reform. She is a strong voice advocating for people who have been left out of our political and economic systems. Click here to find out more about Heidi.



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This article appears in: 2018 Catalyst, Issue 22: Dreamwork Summit