Opinion: Commit Columbus to 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2035
On Thursday afternoon, the future of our environment suffered a drastic blow. With President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, the U.S. lost authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions, curb global temperature increase, and help developing countries deal with the increasingly drastic consequences of climate change.
The United States is one of the countries most responsible for climate change. How we act today will determine how we are viewed by future generations. It is therefore the duty of cities like Columbus to be leaders in a sustainable future. If we do not take strong leaps forward in the next several years, we will see disastrous effects in our public health – including our own lung health and that of our children. Our water quality will decrease while waterways flood. Without any preventative action, the structural adjustments we will need to make to adapt to climate change will cost cities millions of dollars.
The time is now to pressure our elected leaders to commit to transition Columbus to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2035.
Columbus is already in a good position to become a sustainable leader due to its “Go Green Columbus” initiative and the collective good conscience of our powerful communities. However, it is crucial that the city do more. Committing to 100 percent clean and renewable energy practices would put Columbus on the map of progressive cities who are leading our country’s future in the Trump era – cities like Salt Lake City, Madison and San Diego.
The elected officials in these and other cities nationwide have taken steps toward creating up to one million new jobs in alternative energy. The commitment to clean and renewable energy would increase household disposable income by $350-$400 by 2030 (Our Clean Energy Economy). For these reasons and countless others, the transition to clean energy has sweeping bipartisan support – over two-thirds of Americans believe clean energy should be a priority.
Trump and many political leaders often fail to see the economic potential in renewable energy, so it is up to Columbus to be the leader we so often are. In a time where so many are asking what can be done, it must be stressed that change is possible on the local level. Many cities across the country have already responded to Trump’s decision with a commitment to their own version of the Paris accord, promising to do everything the U.S. would have if they had not been removed from the agreement.
“30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents, and more than 100 businesses [are] negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations” (Tabuchi, Fountain). Columbus can join these cities on the frontline of climate protection.
Columbus officials must act quickly to implement institutional change. Two candidates for Columbus City Council lead us in this change. Will Petrik and Jasmine Ayres have pledged to move our city towards renewable and clean energy by 2035 if elected to City Council this November.
It is time for Columbus to explore the benefits of renewable energy not just for our health, but for our economy. Take action for the community. Take action for our future despite the setbacks coming from Washington.