San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: Environmental Justice is the Great Challenge of Our Time

In a focused and powerful address, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom addressed the Ecocity World Summit last week with a call for environmental leadership at the local level. Sounding at times more like an activist than a politician, the mayor earned several spirited rounds of applause from the gathering - all the more impressive considering the heavily credentialed audience of urban planners, environmentalists and veteran activists.

After an introduction by his Department of the Environment Director Jared Blumenfeld, Newsom began by calling for determined action on climate change and environmental issues, saying that the time has come to move past indecision and "abdication of responsibility."

We're not waiting for permission or for someone to save the day - we have to take action now.
Newsom detailed a variety of initiatives the city is taking, and plans for future programs including a solar rebate program, a pilot tidal energy project next to the Golden Gate Bridge, congestion pricing and instituting a carbon tax on industry instead of a payroll tax, insisting that "Any city can do this. It is not difficult to do."

Above all, however, Newsom emphasized the urgency of environmental justice for the less affluent, and appealed for support for public officials who are willing to take the lead in dealing with climate change.

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