Atlanta City Council unanimously approved a measure Monday establishing a community-wide goal of transitioning 100 percent to renewable energy by 2035. The legislation was introduced by city councilman Kwanza Hall, who is also a candidate for Atlanta mayor.
“We know that moving to clean energy will create good jobs, clean up our air and water and lower our residents’ utility bills,” Hall said after the vote. “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 Atlanta Office of Sustainability has been directed to develop a plan by January 2018 to meet the 100 percent renewable energy goal across all city operations by 2025 and community-wide by 2035.
Georgia’s capital and most populous city is following in the footsteps of 26 other municipalities across the U.S. that have announced similar renewable energy goals, including large cities such as San Diego, Salt Lake City and Chicago. Notably, a number of U.S. cities—Aspen, Colorado; Burlington, Vermont; Greensburg, Kansas; Kodiak Island, Alaska; and Rockport, Missouri—have already hit their clean energy targets.
Atlanta is the largest city in the U.S. South to set this ambitious commitment, which “will create good local jobs for Atlanta residents, reduce air pollution and associated public health risks, reduce the strain on water resources and save consumers money,” the measure states.
Ted Terry, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter, applauded the city council’s vote. “Just days after hundreds of thousands marched for climate action across the globe, city leaders here in Atlanta are answering the call,” Terry said in a statement.
“Cities like Atlanta must lead the way in confronting the threat of climate change and accelerating the transition to 100 percent clean energy. Today’s commitment will inspire bold, ambitious leadership from cities throughout the United States and pave the way for a healthier and stronger Atlanta.”
Atlanta, as well as the state of Georgia, has taken commendable strides in the renewable energy sector, the Sierra Club pointed out. Citing data from the Department of Energy, solar makes up the largest share of Georgia energy generation jobs. 5,261 people in Georgia have clean energy jobs compared to 2,535 in the fossil fuels industries. And, according to Shining Cities 2017 report by Environment America, Atlanta ranks 40th out of the 50 most populous U.S. cities in solar photovoltaic installations.