Update on the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative

The Carbon offsets and trading industry has found a home in San Francisco. Consequently, the city lays claim to 80% of the companies working in this space, providing a unique opportunity for San Francisco to leverage its financial, political and intellectual capital to help this sector expand. The Carbon offsets and trading industry focuses on the development of carbon mitigation projects, and sale of renewable energy credits and emissions offsets. It also provides professional consulting services regarding green house emission reduction strategy. On February 18-19 OEWD convened the first “Carbon Collaborative” meeting, the goal of which was to explore how to accelerate business activity in this burgeoning market. 73 key stakeholders and leaders in the environmental markets space attended the conference. Active engagement with and bolstering of environmental markets will not only expand the city’s clean tech economy, but also reintroduce recently displaced financial service professionals into the workplace. Takeaways from the two day meeting included the following priorities and next steps:

1) Policy and related issues necessary to provide clarity, standards, stability and incentives for action to any market-based initiatives that support environmental goals
2) Market dynamics and other conditions necessary for fluid, liquid, transparent exchanges that bring market forces to bear on environmental goals
3) Education and capacity building on a number of levels and for a number of stakeholders, ranging from entrepreneurs to policy and market makers
4) Communication and advocacy opportunities to inform the general public and influence policy
5) Ongoing collaboration and knowledge sharing to leverage the sector’s collective wisdom, learn from mistakes, and coordinate future actions, etc.

As a result, the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative (SFCC) is being created as a non-profit organization working to accelerate the development of effective business and policy responses to climate change. To assist in the fulfillment of the Collaborative’s mission the SFCC intends to actively promote an extensive understanding of legislative, regulatory and market-based responses to climate change through a series of educational conferences. The first program, “Meet the Regulators,” will be a series of moderated discussions with key state and federal agencies who will be essential players in the regulation of green house emissions and environmental markets in the future. In this forum they will provide program participants with both present and future strategic rationales and expected results. The second program, “Policy Development Briefs,” aims at assisting Carbon Collaborative stake holders in cultivating an intimate understanding with policy design and current implementation efforts given the profound interdependency between climate policy and clean technology innovation. With additional conferences and strategic learning opportunities for the Collaborative’s members, the city hopes to support the Carbon Offset Industries’ emergence as a viable and strong force in San Francisco’s clean tech market.

The Carbon Collaborative is part of a broader OEWD strategy to do targeted outreach to the Cleantech sector. San Francisco’s strong network of investment and intellectual capital make it a perfect fit for emerging clean tech companies. The City has always embraced a progressive outlook on incorporating green technology into its economic identity, and expansion in “green markets” has become a powerful platform for stimulating the economy. Currently, 197 clean tech companies operate in the city, including BP Solar, Sustainable Spaces, Climos, and Adura Technologies. Their services range from energy and environmental consulting to green building and design. San Francisco’s geographic proximity to venture capital firms and education and research institutions such as Stanford and Lawrence Livermore labs also provide a unique opportunity to expand this industry.