Sustainability & Climate Action Summit

January 24, 2016

More than 500 people (and all nine council members) contributed almost five hours of their time on a sunny Sunday afternoon on January 24 to explore and help shape the future of Palo Alto, and our response to some of the biggest challenges in the world today.   

Mayor Pat Burt set the tone and aspiration for the day. We had a stirring video keynote and virtual Q&A with Col. Mark “Puck” Mykleby (USMC, Retired) on the pivotal relevance of climate and the “grand strategy” he co-authored for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He talked about the major opportunities presented by “regenerative agriculture, walkable communities and the resource productivity revolution," the importance of local action, and the value of Palo Alto's leadership. Chief Sustainability Officer Gil Friend walked participants through the salient elements of the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. We also heard from City of Palo Alto Councilmembers Marc Berman and Liz Kniss. City Manager Jim Keene summarized the day and sent everyone off with a call to action and a hint of some new programs to come.

But the heart of the day was the residents of Palo Alto - 40 tables of people, in a world café process, grappling creatively with the challenges of transportation, energy and water.

Many community members joined us the following night for a rich study session with the City Council - which included a great presentation by Professor Stefan Heck of Stanford on the future of transportation, energy and buildings, followed by a two-plus hour discussion of the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. Council was open to a discussion of the bold “80x30" goal - reducing Palo Alto’s emissions 80% (from 1990 levels) by 2030, 20 years ahead of California’s target!

Here are some key resources: