Whenever national environmental policy is getting you down, it's always good to look to the cities. Cities are where big positive changes often happen before they become nation-wide movements.
Yesterday, the city of Atlanta announced that it would be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. This makes it the first large southern city to commit to that goal and one of the largest cities in the nation to do so.
The resolution, introduced by Councilman Kwanza Hall, was unanimously approved by the city council. The council will have a plan in place for the transition by January 2018 and it will include the goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy across all city operations by 2025.
“We know that moving to clean energy will create good jobs, clean up our air and water and lower our residents’ utility bills," said Hall. "We never thought we’d be away from landline phones or desktop computers, but today we carry our smartphones around and they’re more powerful than anything we used to have. We have to set an ambitious goal or we’re never going to get there."
The Sierra Club is tracking the renewable energy commitments from cities across the U.S. through its Ready for 100 program. According to the group, Atlanta is the 27th city to pledge to hit the 100 percent renewable energy mark.
The state of Georgia is growing its solar and wind power investments, which will help the city to meet its goal. Already, almost twice as many people work in the clean energy industry in Georgia than in the fossil fuel industry. Also, utility Georgia Power recently announced a plan to expand its clean power developments, mostly solar, to add 1,600 MW by 2021.
Cities have the power to lead the way on climate change prevention and clean energy adoption across the country and around the world. We hope to see more big cities like Atlanta rise to the challenge.