- Legislation proposed by five city council members would give Washington, DC one of the most aggressive clean energy targets in the country, requiring the District to use 100% renewable energy by 2032, reports The Washington Post. Under current goals, the city is on track to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources in that time.
- The bill, which will get an initial hearing on Thursday, would also give the mayor permission to enact regional agreements with Virginia and Maryland to cut greenhouse gas emissions and would update the city’s building codes to promote efficiency.
- The bill would raise electricity and natural gas fees for residents; sponsor Mary M. Cheh's office estimates rates would rise $2.10 per month on gas bills and less than $1 per month for electricity.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire report this weekend, warning of the drastic consequences of climate change and saying governments needed to make "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" to stave off disaster in the coming decades.
With the Trump administration pulling back on many climate policies and saying the U.S. will withdraw from the U.N. climate change agreement, the focus is back on cities and states to take the lead on cutting the country’s emissions. "What’s the alternative — to do nothing?" Cheh told The Washington Post. "We either do our best and encourage others to do their best and the national government to change their position on this, or we give in and accept catastrophe."
The bill — which still needs to clear several council committees before it can see final passage — hits on some common strategies cities have taken. Local governments often have greater control over their utility contracts, making clean energy goals easier to meet, although obtaining nearly all clean energy in just a decade and a half is a lofty goal.
Building codes also have a significant impact over a city’s energy use, meaning small tweaks can make a big difference. The "We Are Still In" coalition and the "We Are Taking Action" collective includes more than 200 mayors vowing to continue holding up U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement, and has led to some broader compacts to collaborate on climate policies.
According to a survey released last month by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), 57% of participating cities are planning some sort of climate action in the coming year, and 60% have launched or expanded a climate policy in the last 12 months. Eight cities in the survey cover 100% of their energy needs with renewable power, and 65% said they purchase at least some renewable energy.