Climate Change: Picking Up the Slack

According to a new poll by The Associated Press, more than 6 in 10 Americans think climate change is a problem that the federal government should address.

The poll shows that 42 percent of Americans oppose the United States withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, and 57 percent of Americans favor local governments picking up the slack to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Salt Lake City is doing just that.

“We’re leading the conversation because we have to now,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “It is critical to stand up and say, ‘we are still in,’ [to the Paris Agreement] and we know a cleaner and promising path, based on science and research, exists to address climate change.”

US Mayors ConferenceMayor 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.

Serving as the Vice Chair of the US Mayor’s Alliance for a Sustainable Future, Mayor Biskupski advocates for clean energy policies and programs, while promoting sustainable development and clean energy initiatives.

This past September, Mayor Biskupski and fellow co-chairs of the Sustainability Alliance released a survey highlighting city and private programs across local communities to reduce carbon emissions.

Over 100 cities were surveyed, including Salt Lake City, on their sustainability efforts in the areas of low-carbon transportation, energy efficiency in new and existing buildings, and renewable electricity.

The findings speak for themselves, cities are already picking up the slack where the Federal government is backtracking

  • About 2/3 of cities are using green fleet vehicles, have committed to renewable electricity, and required efficient government building 
  • Nearly 2/3 of cities have a policy or program to install charging stations for electric vehicles (EV)
  • 50% of cities promote energy efficiently in commercial and residential buildings
  • Nearly 50% of cities have policies in place to help residents and businesses choose renewable electricity options

Cities of all sizes are found to be actively advancing policies, programs, and initiatives that advance climate solutions. A few examples of these include:

  • Green fleet vehicles
  • Increasing EV changing stations
  • Commitments to renewable electricity
  • Energy efficient buildings
  • Strategic partnerships with businesses, local and state governments

You can read the full survey report here.

Here at home, Mayor Biskupski has made clean energy and sustainability a key priority for her administration.

Photo Mar 29, 11 09 26 AMSalt Lake City has adopted its own aggressive clean energy plan called Climate Positive 2040, which details the City’s two main goals: to transition community’s electricity supply to 100 percent clean energy by 2032, and reducing community greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2040.

Salt Lake City recently passed an energy benchmarking ordinance, which is projected to save local buildings owners $15.8 million in annual energy costs and eliminate over 29 tons of criteria pollutants from Salt Lake City’s air each year.

The City also recently completed new solar panel installations across seven government facilities including five fire stations. The projects include 756 panels and will bring 320,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy to municipal operations annually.

Local support continues for clean energy continues to rise. According to a recent survey of Salt Lake City residents, 83% believe that climate change is happening, and 81% report that now is the time to take action to reduce pollution that causes climate change.

“Technology is driving us toward smarter and cleaner resources to power our communities,” said Mayor Biskupski. “It’s clear that the majority of Americans support a clean energy future.”

Cities small and large across the country have stepped up to combat climate change. Through collaboration, Salt Lake City can achieve its sustainability goals, and pave the way forward as an example for the nation.

 

You can read more on Salt Lake City’s clean energy efforts by clicking here.

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