The 100 US cities U.S. cities committed to 100% renewable energy can be basis of a national plan
With a new, scary study appearing at what seems like once a week, good news on the climate front is always welcome. And in at least one climate-related way, the news in 2018 has been very good. From Abita Springs, Louisiana, population 2,365, to San Diego, California, population 1.3 million, U.S. cities are joining others around the world in pledging to go 100% renewable energy (or at least non-carbon sources).
As of December 17, those are just two of the 102 U.S. cities that have made such a formal commitment. The mayors of those 102 cities and 104 others now stand with the 100% renewable energy pledge, though more than half of them have yet to convince their governing bodies to follow their lead in the matter. Nineteen months ago, only 25 cities had made the commitment. In addition to these cities, 11 counties, Hawai’i and California are shooting for the 100 percent goal.
Outside the United States, 80 cities in the UK, and 23 other cities worldwide are committed to reaching 100 percent renewables in the next decade or two. At least 100 cities already get at least 70 percent of their power from renewable sources. These include:
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Oslo, Norway.
Six U.S. cities have already fulfilled their pledge and run on 100 percent renewable energy NOW:
- Aspen, CO
- Burlington, VT
- Georgetown, MD
- Greensburg, KS
- Rock Port, MO
- and Kodiak Island, AK
Says Abita Springs Mayor Greg Lemons:
“As the mayor of a small town, I take seriously my responsibility to set the direction for our community.
“Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy, and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs. Politics has nothing to do with it for me. Clean energy just makes good economic sense.
“By establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal, we have an opportunity to use solar power that we can control in our community, for our community. Clean energy is a way that we can save money for Abita Springs both today and in the future.”
While the Trump regime is flat-out hostile to accelerating the energy transformation away from fossil fuels, having these dozens of jurisdictions containing millions of people making the renewables commitment can serve as a model for other local and state governments. By this time next year, the number of cities on the 100 percent roster could be 150 or more. A few more states might also sign up.
As noted, this is good news. But we obviously have a long way to go. Most U.S. electricity is still generated from coal and natural gas (62.9 percent) although there’s been a big shift away from coal and nuclear (20 percent). Just 17 percent of our electricity comes from renewables (7.4 percent hydropower, 6.3 percent wind, 1.3 percent solar, 0.4 percent geothermal, and a sprinkling of “other”).
Encouraging as the 100% renewable energy pledges are, local and state governments cannot accelerate the ongoing energy transformation all by themselves. A coordinated national plan is required. And that, of course, can only be adopted when there is a majority of climate-friendly leaders in the Senate and House, together with an aggressive climate hawk in the White House. The earliest this could occur is January 2021.
Some people believe we must wait until then before making plans to speed up the transformation. This would be a grievous mistake. A top priority of the Democratic Party should be to develop such plans now. Right now. Unfortunately, the party platform takes climate change a lot more seriously than many congressional Democrats do. Of course, most elected Republicans are a waste of breath on the subject of climate change. But we have never expected them to do what is needed.
Whether this guided transformation is called a Green New Deal, or a Green Marshall Plan or some other name doesn’t matter. What does is creating a plan to address the climate crisis with comprehensive action, not with mere lip service. A good start on this would be for congressional Democrats who haven’t done so already to join the 40 representatives who support Rep.-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a House Select Committee for a Green New Deal—a committee that could get to work less than a month from now.
Mayor Lemons is right. Going for 100 percent clean energy makes good sense economically and environmentally. Nationwide, this means hundreds of thousands of jobs, cleaner air, better health, fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Done right, the greening of energy, transportation, agriculture, and housing can also reduce America’s wretched economic inequality and embrace environmental justice.
The Climate Mobilization people declare that we should treat the climate crisis the way the crisis of World War II was handled. Hardly anyone said after Pearl Harbor, oh-it’s-too-hard-to-defeat-the-Axis, or it’s-too-expensive, or we-don’t-have-and-can’t-create-the-necessary-technology, or most-Americans-don’t-want-to-fight-a-war-so-we-can’t-do-so. The nation just got on with it even though it meant changing deep-seated habits, redirecting resources, and transforming much of the nation’s manufacturing sector. This wasn’t done haphazardly or on the cheap. The social, economic, technological, and management impacts were huge and long-lasting.
Today some argue that a comprehensive transformation to address the climate crisis is impractical, impossible, even imprudent. The cities and mayors don’t agree. Granted, accomplishing the needed changes within the deadlines that climate scientists say we must will not be easy. It will not be achieved without hiccups. But turning back the fascists 75 years ago wasn’t easy either. Adopting a no-can-do attitude violates the progressive spirit. From city halls to the halls of Congress, every elected Democrat and every Democratic candidate hoping to be elected should support the proposed select committee and add a 100 percent clean energy pledge to their own campaign agendas.
(Crossposted from DailyKos. Image By Kenueone on Pixabay)