Salt Lake City Makes Historic Commitment to 100% Renewables by 2032
Salt Lake City announced Wednesday its commitment to transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2032. The city also plans to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2040.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski and city council members signed a joint resolution Tuesday creating the Climate Positive 2040 commitment. The resolution acknowledges the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and is driven by the burning of fossil fuels. City officials also stated in the resolution that changes in water systems and extreme-weather events are affecting Salt Lake City now and will be exacerbated in the future, according to North America Wind Power.
"This is the most ambitious step ever taken by Salt Lake City to address the threat of climate change," Biskupski said in a press release. "This commitment places the city among leading communities worldwide that acknowledge our responsibility to rapidly reduce emissions and forge a new path forward that protects our economies, societies and overall human well-being."
100% Renewable Energy Is Possible, Here's How https://t.co/1sKBQNXWWX @GreenpeaceAustP @globalactplan— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1456746921.0
Climate Positive 2040 laid out four main pathways to achieve Salt Lake City's historic goal:
- Clean Electricity Supply: The City recently partnered with Summit County and Park City to fund a renewable energy study that will reveal pathways forward, including towards 100 percent clean electricity by 2032. This study is underway and will offer results in late 2016. New clean energy options for homeowners and businesses, such as Rocky Mountain Power's Subscriber Solar program, will also be key.
- Reduce Energy Waste: Energy efficiency and conservation, both for our buildings and in how we travel, are essential to achieving sizable reductions in carbon pollution. The City continues to partner with large property owners and managers through Project Skyline and by exploring new options to advance energy savings in commercial properties.
- Active Transportation and Clean Vehicles: Salt Lake City has been active by originally launching initiatives such as Clear the Air Challenge and the Hive Pass which offers discounted transit passes to residents. The City has also invested in substantial bike infrastructure and programs and installed public electric vehicle charging infrastructure. New EV charging stations are planned for 12 total locations in late 2016. These efforts will continue to grow and evolve to match the ambitions of an 80 percent reduction in carbon pollution.
- Community Partnership: Partnership is key to succeeding on climate change and it's you, as community members, that will help drive adoption of solutions. The newly formed Utah Climate Action Network is one way the City is leading alongside other organizations committed to sharing and accelerating the adoption of climate solutions.
"The goals in our resolution may seem aggressive," City Council Member Erin Mendenhall said. "To that I say, they are realistic if we want to actually change the air we breathe. This has been a long time Council priority we have supported for years through budget priorities, ordinances and resolutions, helping lay the foundation for the City to take the leap."
How We Get to a 100% Renewable Energy Future https://t.co/DId1zRwdI5 @CSREuropeOrg @Ethical_Corp— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1466024710.0
In January, during her State of the City address, Biskupski made a commitment for powering its government operations with 100 percent renewable energy. She also committed to major carbon reductions citywide.
But this new announcement takes the city's commitment one step further.
"We can tackle this challenge and deliver clean energy solutions that will simultaneously improve air quality, protect public health and deliver local jobs," Biskupski said. "Leading on climate change today is an obligation we all share with each other and to future generations."
The Democratic National Convention Platform, released last month, also made a call for 100 percent renewable energy sources. The goal year determined in the platform was 2050.
Oregon Becomes First State in Nation to Sign Bill That Phases Out Coal, Ramps Up Renewables https://t.co/gVtsXtssWM @BeyondCoal @quitcoal— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1458078630.0
Salt Lake City officials aren't the only ones taking climate action. In March, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law legislation aimed at eradicating the use of coal for electricity generation entirely within two decades.
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.