Atlanta is joining the growing ranks of U.S. cities that want to get 100 percent clean energy.
Lawmakers in Georgia’s capital city approved a measure to get all of Atlanta’s electricity supplies from renewable sources, including wind and solar power, by 2035. The resolution commits city officials to developing a plan to make that happen.
“We know that moving to clean energy will create good jobs, clean up our air and water, and lower our residents’ utility bills,” Kwanza Hall, the city council member who introduced the resolution, said in a statement this week.
He likened today’s fossil fuel-powered grid to outdated landline phones in the age of smartphones. “We have to set an ambitious goal or we’re never going to get there,” said Hall, who is also a Democratic candidate for mayor.
Atlanta is now the 27th U.S. city to pledge a 100-percent clean energy goal, the Sierra Club said.
The environmental group is spearheading local clean energy commitments through its Ready for 100 campaign, which includes cities spanning from St. Petersburg, Florida, clear to Kodiak Island, Alaska. In a related initiative, mayors from about two dozen cities — including Miami Beach, Salt Lake City, and San Diego — have also pledged support for a community-wide transition away from fossil fuels.
City and state leaders have long outpaced the federal government when it comes to adopting policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, boosting energy efficiency, and preparing for rising sea levels, frequent heat waves, and other effects of climate change.
Proponents say local action is more urgent than ever now that President Donald Trump is working to scrap federal policies and cut funding for clean energy and environmental protection.
In March, Trump signed an executive order to begin unraveling many of the Obama administration’s climate efforts, including the landmark Clean Power Plan, which aims to slash carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. Last week, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency started to wipe information about human-driven climate change from its website.
In response to such moves, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets. At the March for Science on April 22 and the People’s Climate March on April 29, demonstrators in U.S. and global cities called for ambitious action on climate change.
Atlanta officials were “answering the call” of protesters this week when they adopted the clean energy resolution,” said Ted Terry, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia chapter.
“Cities like Atlanta must lead the way in confronting the threat of climate change and accelerating the transition to 100 percent clean energy,” he said in a news release. “Today’s commitment will inspire bold, ambitious leadership from cities throughout the United States and pave the way for a healthier and stronger Atlanta.”
U.S. policymakers also responded to the protest movements. Last week, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, and Ed Markey introduced a bill to get 100 clean energy nationwide by 2050.
The legislation — which has little to no chance of becoming law — would halt new fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. It would also direct hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars each year for clean energy projects, primarily within communities of color and low-income areas.
Bill McKibben, co-founder of the grassroots environmental group 350.org, acknowledged the bill’s uphill battle in Congress, but said “it will change the [energy] debate in fundamental ways.”
“100 is an important number,” he added.