Orlando just became the 40th American municipality to commit to using 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050. The pledge was the result of a unanimous vote by the city council on Tuesday (August 7).
This environmental move by participating U.S. cities was prompted by President Donald Trump‘s June 1 announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which brought together 195 signatories for the first time to agree on an international plan to combat the threat of climate change.
Per United Press International, the measure that passed in the city council read: "Renewable energy represents an enormous economic opportunity for the city of Orlando to create jobs in an emerging industry, increase economic security and expand prosperity for local residents, reduce air pollution and associated public health risks, reduce the strain on limited water resources, and save the city and consumers money."
After the resolution passed, Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer, who signed on to the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100 Percent Clean Energy campaign in June, told press, “This administration has decided not to honor our commitment to the Paris climate accord, but a lot of mayors around the country have picked up the reins to say if we’re not doing it at the federal level, it’s incumbent that we lead at the local level. More than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities, so we have to be the ones that are leading on the important issues that are of consequence for not just this year, but for decades and even centuries to come."
The city council also hopes there will be employment opportunities as a result of the climate commitment. According to city’s director of sustainability, Chris Castro, in the Orlando Weekly, “solar jobs grew 10 times faster than the overall state economy, adding 1,700 new jobs” in 2016. Castro believes that technology developments can grow that number even more.
In attendance at yesterday’s vote was the First 50 coalition, an alliance focused on sustainability in Central Florida. One of the coalition’s key members is the NAACP local chapter of Orlando, a city with a population that is 28 percent Black and 25 percent Latinx. "We stand in support with the Orlando City Commission in realizing the importance of renewable energy to it residents, by taking the necessary actions to begin the transformation," said Orange County branch president Beverlye Colson Neal, per EcoWatch. "We look forward to working with the city to educate the residents of the importance and advantages of renewable energy as we move into the future."
Orlando joins San Diego, Salt Lake City, Florida’s Sarasota and St. Petersburg and dozens more in this goal.