Resolve: Clean Energy for US Cities

Update (6/26/2017): Resolution passed by US Conference of Mayors — Read More

Mayor Biskupski will cap off a busy week by addressing climate change in Miami on Friday, June 22nd, when she will press for adoption of a resolution promoting 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 for American cities at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The measure is co-sponsored by Mayor Biskupski and Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina. It specifically cites wind, solar, geothermal, and wave technology as renewable sources cities should be embracing to combat climate change. The resolution adds that some forms of biomass, may also be considered renewable resources, but only after being evaluated for sustainability and any negative environmental impacts.

Notably, the document specifically excludes “energy sources derived from fossil fuels, nuclear, incineration of municipal and medical waste, and any large-scale future hydroelectric development.”

“It is vital that the Conference of Mayors Energy Committee and ultimately, the entire Conference, adopt a forward-looking approach to our cities’ energy policies,” said Mayor Biskupski. “Technology is driving us toward smarter and cleaner resources to power our communities, and we cannot fall back on the old and dirty forms of energy if our goal is a sustainable future and a serious plan to meet climate change head-on.”

Under Mayor Biskupski’s leadership, Salt Lake City is among 25-plus U.S. cities that have already adopted ambitious 100 percent clean and renewable energy goals. Last year, Salt Lake City pledged to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2032 and to reduce carbon output by 80 percent by 2040.

By embracing scientifically sound resources such as wind and solar, the City will be on the path to addressing some of the harshest realities of global warming locally:

  • The fact that Salt Lake City is warming at twice the global average
  • The fact that increased warming of the planet puts our state’s $1 billion ski industry at risk by cutting winter seasons short and decreased snow depths
  • The fact that increased drought periods will compromise the canyon watershed, a critical source of drinking water for nearly 1 million people in the Salt Lake Valley

Mayor Biskupski is an active participant in several U.S. mayors’ initiatives on climate change, including serving as co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100 % Clean Energy, Vice Chair of the Conference of Mayor’s Alliance for a Sustainable Future, and Climate Mayors, a collective of more than 300 mayors representing 60 million constituents. Climate Mayors fully supports efforts of the United Nations on climate change and is committed to working locally to adopt the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, regardless of the presidential administration’s withdrawal from the accord.

“It is critical to stand up and say ‘we are still in,’ and we know a cleaner and promising path, based on science and research, exists to address climate change,” the Mayor said.

Here is the full text of Resolution 36: “100 % Renewable Energy in American Cities,” which will be addressed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors:

100% Renewable Energy in American Cities

Sponsored by:
The Honorable Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia
The Honorable Jackie Biskupski, Mayor of Salt Lake City

WHEREAS, renewable energy represents an enormous economic opportunity for our nation and our nation’s cities to create jobs in an emerging industry, increase economic security, expand prosperity for local residents, reduce air pollution and associated public health risks, reduce the strain on water resources, save consumers money, and address environmental justice challenges in communities; and  

WHEREAS, “renewable energy” includes energy derived from wind, solar, geothermal, and wave technology; and

WHEREAS, some forms of biomass may be considered “renewable energy” after being evaluated for sustainability and environmental justice implications; and

WHEREAS, “renewable energy” specifically excludes energy derived from fossil fuels, nuclear, incineration of municipal and medical waste, and any large-scale future hydroelectric development; and

WHEREAS, the transition to renewable energy will improve air and water quality and protect the health of our families, particularly the most vulnerable across our communities; and

WHEREAS, according to the Department of Energy, the cost of wind power is down 41 percent since 2008 and solar costs are down between 54 percent and 64 percent in that same period; and

WHEREAS, more than twenty-five U.S. cities, including Columbia, SC, San Diego, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, and San Jose, CA have already adopted ambitious 100 percent clean, renewable energy goals, and six U.S. Cities, including Aspen, CO, Burlington, VT, Greensburg, KS, Kodiak Island, AK, and Rock Port, MO have already hit their targets to generate 100 percent of the energy used community-wide from clean, non-polluting and renewable sources; and

WHEREAS, individuals, families, businesses, and institutions throughout the nation seek greater energy freedom through the expansion of local and distributed energy resources like photovoltaic solar and electric vehicles; and

WHEREAS, rooftop solar, low-income community solar, energy efficiency, and demand control technologies offer the opportunity to equitably distribute resources, address poverty, stimulate new economic activity in our nation’s cities, and lift up those most impacted by high energy costs; and

WHEREAS, actions by local government and businesses are already a significant driver of renewable energy growth and can put the country on track to meet its commitment to the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors supports cities establishing a community-wide target of powering their communities with 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2035; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors proclaims its commitment to equity, affordability, public participation, and access for all people in America as cities pursue this transition to 100% clean, renewable energy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that priority should be given to the lowest cost measures to meet energy needs including efficiency, weatherization, cogeneration, district heating and cooling, decentralized electricity generation and smart grids/micro grids, the use of industrial waste heat, building controls, automated lighting, solar-powered hot water heaters and programs that create an energy-saving culture in our nation’s cities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that given the economic development, job creation, and job training potential of clean, renewable energy, the transition to 100% clean, renewable energy should include structured mechanisms to include low-income citizens in the benefits to be derived from the transition, including creating quality careers adhering to local source hiring, a just transition for workers displaced by fossil fuel reduction, equitable access through ownership and benefits to create new opportunity for historically marginalized communities, and affordable clean energy options.

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