By Rick Wackernagel
Mayors for 100% Clean Energy (www.mayors4cleanenergy.org), an initiative of the Sierra Club’s “Ready for 100” campaign, zoomed past a milestone last month. In the lead-up to the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, more than 120 mayors endorsed the initiative, well beyond the goal of 100. These mayors – Republican, Democrat and Independent – say that a transition to 100% clean, i.e. carbon-free, energy will be good for their communities. They will “work with all stakeholders to transition away from dirty energy and implement local, affordable solutions like energy efficiency, solar [energy], wind [energy] and pollution-free electric transportation.” The campaign collected these endorsements in just 10 weeks.
The mayors are going beyond signing the endorsement. Mayors from Columbia, South Carolina, San Diego, Pittsburgh and many other places are speaking out, saying that we need a just and equitable transition to 100% renewable energy.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said, “It’s up to us as leaders to creatively implement clean-energy solutions for our cities across the nation. It’s not merely an option now; it’s imperative. Cities and mayors can lead the transition away from fossil fuels to 100% clean and renewable energy.”
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, “Clean energy isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. In San Diego, we brought business and environmental groups together to advance a goal of 100% renewable energy. Since then, San Diego has become the nation’s top-ranking city in solar-energy capacity. We’re going green not only because it supports clean air and water, but because it supports our 21st century economy. It makes sense for mayors across the country to work together, because when we talk about the future of our planet, we’re talking about the future of our communities. As a city known around the world for its beautiful environment, we look forward to showing the world how to protect it.”
When President Trump announced that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, Pittsburgh’s Mayor, Bill Peduto, made 100% clean energy a goal in his city.
Salt Lake City’s Climate Positive 2040 plan identifies steps and policies it will take to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2032.
Three U.S. cities, Aspen, Colorado, Burlington, Vermont and Palo Alto, California, already obtain all of their electricity from renewable sources.
Preparing for the annual meeting of the Conference of Mayors, the largest non-partisan organization of cities in the U.S., Mayors Steve Benjamin, of Columbia, and Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City, worked on a resolution supporting the goal of obtaining 100% of our energy from clean and renewable sources by 2035. It was passed unanimously at the meeting. Given the bipartisan support and logic of mayors such as Kevin Faulconer, that’s not surprising. Prior to the meeting, the Sierra Club released an analysis based on data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Energy Information Administration showing that transitioning the 1,481 Conference-member cities to 100% renewable electricity could shift 42% of U.S. electricity to renewable sources. If completed by 2025, that would bring the U.S. close to its pre-Trump contribution to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions in the Paris Climate Agreement.
U.S mayors are, indeed, ready to work for a clean, renewable-energy future.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Club Vermont Chapter is exploring a campaign to move Vermont through its goal of 90% renewable energy by 2050 to 100% renewable energy. If you are Ready for 100 in Vermont, please email Robb Kidd at Robb.Kidd@SierraClub.Org. If you’re interested in Ready for 100 in another Northeast state, contact Ally Samuel at Allyson.Samuell@SierraClub.Org.
Rick Wackemagel is a member, Energy and Climate Committee, Sierra Club Vermont Chapter