Green Cities California (GCC) is a coalition of twelve of California’s largest and most environmentally progressive local governments. Our mission is to accelerate the implementation of sustainability policies and programs through collaborative action.
Scientists are ever more urgent in sounding the alarm about the catastrophic consequences of climate change and other looming environmental emergencies including the over-consumption of natural resources, peak oil, availability of clean fresh water, food security, and environmental justice. That urgency is a primary reason these jurisdictions have joined together to amplify and accelerate their individual sustainability efforts.
Leveraging traction gained at the local government level is crucial for two reasons. First, for the first time in history, the majority of the planet’s population lives in cities. Second, local governments are relatively small, flexible, and directly responsible to their constituents and are proving to be more effective in advancing forward thinking sustainability policies and programs than State or Federal governments.
GCC members are leaders in developing and implementing leading edge sustainability policies and practices. The bar for GCC membership is high, by design. Pre-requisites include adoption of:
- a climate action plan, or a commitment to have one adopted by year’s end;
- the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords, and
- the Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
All GCC members have demonstrated leadership in achieving effective solutions to the environmental challenges faced by urban communities. While many cities are just now beginning to explore the feasibility of mandating green building standards or conducting their first Greenhouse Gas emissions inventory, most GCC members are on their second and third iterations of these and other sustainability related policies and initiatives.
- Influence State and National policy in the areas of :
- Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
- Sustainable land Use, building and development
- Waste reduction
- Water conservation
- Energy efficiency and renewable energy
- Reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and single occupancy vehicles
- Equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens
- Assist other local governments throughout the state and the nation to adopt and implement sustainability related policies and practices.
- Work collaboratively on specific “eco-initiatives” such as promoting climate friendly foods, highlighting the role that consumption plays in climate protection, collectively agreeing to purchase only 100% recycled paper and prohibiting the use of city funds for bottled water.
- Climate Friendly Foods
At their retreat in October 2011, GCC members agreed to move forward collectively in promoting climate friendly foods by participating in the Cool Foods and Meatless Monday campaigns, among other initiatives.
- Tackling Consumption
On behalf of GCC, the San Francisco Department of the Environment commissioned a statewide assessment that highlights how our purchasing choices impact climate change. The report, entitled “The Carbon We Consume: A Greenhouse Gas Impacts Assessment of Consumer Demand in California,” also offers insights on ways each of us can reduce our contribution to climate change by making thoughtful choices when we shop.
- Promote Bans on Single Use Bags Statewide
In early 2010, GCC commissioned a Master Environmental Assessment (MEA) on single use bags, following the filing of lawsuits against cities that have passed single use bag fees or bans without conducting a full Environmental Impact Review (EIR). Since an EIR is prohibitively expensive, particularly for small cities, free access to the MEA has dramatically decreased the costs of developing EIRs and has facilitated the adoption of local ordinances that institute fees and bans on single use bags in dozens of jurisdictions across the state. See the MEA and related material.
- Collective Voice on State Legislation
The collective voice of GCC’s high performance cities has contributed to the success of legislative proposals on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and renewable energy and to more aggressive climate protection targets in AB32, California’s land mark Global Warming Solutions Act.
- Recycled Paper
As one of their first collaborative efforts, GCC members agreed to require that all paper purchased for city operations be 100% post consumer recycled paper. Collectively GCC jurisdictions purchase half a billion sheets of office paper annually, at a cost of about $5 million. By switching to 100% recycled paper, GCC members annually save:
- 8,600,000 pounds of CO2 emissions,
- 19,600,000 gallons of water,
- 11,500,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, and
- 67,000 trees
- No More Bottled Water!
GCC members also agreed to ban the use of city funds for bottled water, resulting in annual savings of more than $5 million.
Last updated April 19, 2012
GCC policies have resulted in...
- Conversion of over 665 million sheets of paper to 100% recycled content each year, which saves:
- 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions
- Almost 80,000 trees
- More than 23 million gallons of water
- More than 6,600 barrels of oil
- 1,633,302 plastic water bottles from being landfilled, which saves:
- GCC member cities over