Atlanta just became the US's 27th, and Georgia's first city to pledge to a 100% renewable energy goal, the Sierra Club grassroots environmental organization reports.
On Monday, Atlanta lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution introduced by city council member Kwanza Hall which aims to power the city entirely on renewable power by 2035. The resolution commits the city's council to develop a plan of action to transition all of its buildings to clean energy sources by 2025, and for the entire city to make the switch a decade later.
"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 smart phones 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 vote comes less than a month after Hall, who's also a Democratic candidate for mayor, found himself in muddy waters for his skepticism regarding climate change.
"I got a question mark on the global warming thing," he said at a forum last month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. "I do believe in sustainability. I’m a science-minded person and I have a science background. But stuff is in the media too much. […] it’s hard for me to be convinced sometimes."
One day after his remark, Hall released a statement clarifying his position on clean energy and his initial, unenthusiastically received comment.
"I did not articulate where I am coming from clearly, at all," he said. "I believe in science, and the overwhelming scientific consensus that tells us that our planet is warming and it is caused by humans burning fossil fuels. What I’m not sold on is the politicization of big issues like climate change. A lot of it is senseless propaganda, and it comes from both sides."
And I think Hall's views on the topic are illustrative of the current state of discussions on climate talks. On the one hand, people see political and exclusive economic interests red-handedly churning the talks, clamping down on change. There's a lot of demagoguery and outright lying on this one hand. They see censorship of science, of media, of national parks, on this one hand. Seriously, how low do you have to go before you feel the need to censor national parks?
On the other, however, they see regular folks, industry, scientists, taking a stand and demanding that facts, not ideology or greed, leads the way forward. If the March for Science can be used as a gauge -- and I believe the people taking part proved they can -- people are getting pretty fed up with the one hand, and very interested in shaking the other.
Which sits just fine with me.
The vote makes Atlanta the first Georgian city to commit to green energy, as well as the "biggest southern city" to do so, Sierra Club reports. Ted Terry, director of the Sierra Club's Georgia Chapter, applauded the city for "answering the call" to action against climate change. However, he warns that this is just the starting point for the community and there's still a lot of work to do before all of Atlanta goes green.