back to top

1,400 US Mayors Just Backed 100% Renewable Energy By 2035

Unlike President Trump, these mayors are embracing solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy — in part to combat climate change.

Posted on

These 120 cities have pledged to run entirely on renewable energy in a campaign called "Mayors for 100% Clean Energy."

A group representing about 1,400 US mayors voted on Monday afternoon to pass a resolution that supports cities aiming to run entirely on renewable energy by 2035.

The recent vote at the annual summit for US mayors is the latest example of how local, state, and business leaders are embracing solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy — in part to combat climate change.

“Climate change may be the challenge of our generation, but it is also the opportunity of a lifetime,” Mayor Philip Levine of Miami Beach, the city hosting the summit, said in a statement. “This landmark resolution reinforces our collective resolve to combat the threats of climate change like rising seas by advancing bold and innovative solutions that reflect the best of our nation’s ideals.”

These efforts by mayors and others stand in stark contrast to the Trump administration, which has taken steps to grow coal, natural gas, and oil use. (One major exception is President Trump's recent pitch to line his proposed border wall with Mexico in solar panels.) Trump, along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and other top US officials, has openly questioned the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate change. In early June, Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement.

The new effort by US mayors, in contrast, is “a message to the entire world that America is still at the table and we support a vision at 100% clean and renewable energy,” Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, told BuzzFeed News last week. Benjamin, along with Mayor Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City, sponsored the resolution.

This resolution is an extension of a campaign launched in April called Mayors for 100% Clean Energy. At least 120 mayors have pledged to support their city running entirely on renewables in the future.

Columbia is one city that is starting to back up its pledge with action. The city council last week formally adopted the target to run entirely on certain energy sources by 2036, a year later than the main campaign goal. That adds to Columbia’s efforts to boost solar access, and to install energy-efficient light bulbs in traffic lights. However, less than one-third of the cities on the campaign have taken these next steps.

What's more, as a recent story in Greentech Media points out, cities often have limited influence in dictating energy infrastructure compared to counties, municipalities, and states — an obstacle toward meeting bold renewable energy goals.

There’s also a debate among energy experts about whether the "100%" goal of this campaign and others makes economic and climate sense — in part because it explicitly excludes low-carbon energy infrastructure such as nuclear energy and large-scale hydroelectric power.

Mayors adopted several additional climate and energy resolutions at the annual summit, including one urging the Trump administration and Congress to support policies that can bolster responses to climate change, and another specifically supporting offshore wind development.

In a parallel effort on Monday, 46 mayors from around the world, including seven from the US, published an open letter urging leaders of the 20 major economies to follow through on their climate promises, such as delivering on the goals of the Paris climate agreement.


Zahra Hirji is a science reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco

Contact Zahra Hirji at zahra.hirji@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Promoted