U.S. mayors were expected to vote this weekend to make 100% renewable power a top policy priority for the next decade, a move that could offset the emissions of the country’s five biggest carbon polluters—Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, and Ohio—if every member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors signed on.
The vote at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference, which represents 148 million Americans and 41.8% of the country’s electricity consumption, “would be the broadest rejection” of Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, Huffington Post reports. “If each of the federation’s 1,481 cities actually converted to zero-emissions electricity by 2035, U.S. emissions of planet-warming gases would fall by 619 million tonnes,” according to analysis by Sierra Club.
“The more cities that not only pledge to move to 100% renewable energy but pass that into a local law or ordinance and begin to work on that transition, the closer we can get to meeting the Paris goals through city-level action,” said Jodie Van Horn, director of Sierra’s Ready for 100 campaign.
In its analysis, Sierra Club built two scenarios based on data from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Energy Information Administration. “If the 34 cities that already have plans in place to transition to 100% clean energy achieved their goal, U.S. emission from electricity would fall by 19.1 million tonnes,” HuffPost explains. “The number increases to 34.5 million tonnes, equal to 3.4% of U.S. electricity consumption, if an additional 84 cities whose mayors pledged to completely switch to renewables, but have yet to pass a formal policy, also meet their target.”
The ideal, Van Horn added, would be for every city in the mayors’ conference to adopt the goal by 2035. “This is the good, better, best scenario,” she said.
On a parallel track, mayors of 46 of the world’s largest cities issued a statement through the C40 network yesterday, calling on G20 leaders to deliver on their Paris commitments. The mayors, representing 250 million citizens in 31 countries and combined GDP above US$10 trillion, included John Tory of Toronto, Denis Coderre of Montreal, and Gregor Robertson of Vancouver.
“Given the U.S. intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the resolve of the other 19 leaders at the upcoming G20 Summit to safeguard the future of our planet is more important than ever,” the group stated. “As mayors, we are committing to bold emission reductions plans, tackling air pollution, and investing in sustainable infrastructure that makes our cities resilient to the effects of climate change. We are taking these measures because creating smart cities offers unprecedented opportunities.”