“It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.” – Elizabeth Kolbert

Carbon Free Palo Alto’s (CFPA) mission is to articulate a vision of carbon neutrality for Palo Alto’s energy systems and to make that vision a reality. It was formed in May 2011 as a grassroots citizen activism organization spearheaded by Palo Alto activists deeply concerned about climate change and committed to spurring a sustained and meaningful local response to climate change. CFPA grew out of earlier activities, including the Palo Alto Green Ribbon Task Force started by former Mayor Judy Kleinberg and later the Sierra Club’s Cool Cities campaign.

Since its formal formation, CFPA has celebrated several significant milestones where it has played an instrumental and influential role. Some of those milestones and other highlights are listed below.


Palo Alto Adopts 80/30 Goal for GHG Reductions

  • Council approves the “80/30″ target, 80% reduction in GHG’s by 2030.
  • CFPA work with staff to prioritize action items in the Sustainability Implementation Plan (SIP)


Palo Alto Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP)

  • 2 CFPA members serve as influential Advisory board members. CFPA proposes 50% reduction in GHG’s with no offsets in the next 10 years as the goal.

Palo Alto “fuel switching”  Plan 

  • CPAU revisited fuel-switching cost benefit analysis based on CFPA response.
  • Utilities Advisory Commission approves the fuel switching initiatives suggested by staff.
  • City Council approves the fuel switching initiatives suggested by staff.


  • CFPA members join advocacy efforts in Palo Alto to support the proposed VTA investment in a Bus Rapid Transit system along El Camino in Santa Clara.




Palo Alto to plan for “fuel switching”   

  • Palo Alto City Council directs city staff in “colleagues memo” to report on implementation strategies to reduce use of natural gas and gasoline through fuel switching to carbon free electricity.
  • CFPA provides detailed response to Palo Alto Utilities fuel switching analysis.

Palo Alto Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP) Expo

  • The city hosted CFPA and other groups to present and discuss ideas that will help the city articulate the vision and plan for aggressive CO2 emission reductions by 2020.

City plans for Community Solar Program  

  • Palo Alto Utilities approves and announces plans for a community solar and other solar programs in 2015.


City of Palo Alto’s Commits to 100% Carbon-Neutral Electricity

  • CPAU recommends that they be allowed to develop a plan by December 2012 for decarbonizing Palo Alto’s electricity supply by Jan 1, 2012.
    • Utilities Advisory Commission approves unanimously in November 2011
    • City Council unanimously approves in May 2012
  • CPAU proposes a definition of carbon neutrality based on the industry standard Greenhouse Gas (GHG) protocol defined by the World Resources Institute.
    • Utilities Advisory Commission approves unanimously in July 2012
    • City Council unanimously refers matter to Finance committee in July 2012
    • Finance committee approves unanimously in October 2012
    • City Council approves via consent calendar in November 2012



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