How To Switch Your City To 100% Renewable Energy | One Small Step | NowThis

We’re talking and more. This is an exciting
trend when you consider that 70% of our carbon emissions
in the US come from cities. If more cities were to make the switch, we could have a real impact
on our climate goals. To find out I’m in St.
Petersburg, Florida, to talk to the mayor and learn
how a bunch of volunteers convinced their city to go 100% renewable. And I connect with activists in New York as they lobby their representatives to commit to a 100% renewable agenda. I’m Lucy Biggers and
this is One Small Step. (upbeat music) Renewable energy is an energy
made from natural processes that don’t run out, like wind or solar. In contrast, there are a
limited amount of fossil fuels like oil and coal that exist on earth. Fossil fuels also
produce greenhouse gasses like CO2 and methane, while renewable energy has an almost nonexistent
carbon footprint. There are great benefits
to switching your city to 100% renewable energy. It’s clean, so you’re
reducing air pollution and cutting CO2 emissions. Not to mention the
investment in infrastructure creates new jobs. In Florida itself they created nearly 2,000 new solar jobs in 2018. Right now, six US cities run
on 100% renewable energy. Places like Aspen, Colorado, Burlington, Vermont and Georgetown, Texas, have all made the transition
and hit their targets. What’s so cool is the list
includes red and blue cities, so this is not a partisan issue. Today, I’m in St. Petersburg, Florida, where in 2016 a group of activists successfully convinced their city leaders to commit to transition their
city to 100% renewable energy. James Scott was one of
the leading advocates of that movement. So, what would be your
advice to organizers or just regular old people
in other communities who maybe wanna see something
like this pass in their town. One of the first steps is to identify people who share your values, people in your community
who are likely allies. You kinda gotta build an alliance. Even having like a
roundtable at your house. Just inviting people in your community to begin that conversation and say, “Okay, where do we start, guys? “Who do we begin this conversation with?” Find your local Sierra Club group, connect with your local
leaders in the Sierra Club. I helped coauthor a
toolkit for organizing. Amazing. There’s an actual booklet
and it’ll tell you how to get started, how to
start writing editorials, identifying targets on your
city council and your community, and literally it’s all there. And then kinda walks you through
how to build that momentum and how to ultimately
get your city government behind your goal. If you’re in a community and you’re trying to get
this movement started, how much time commitment is this? How much money do you have to spend to really get something
like this off the ground? Theoretically, you can do this for free. You contact your mayor or you
contact your mayor’s office or your city council person,
those things are free. In 2016, the activists
accomplished their goal. Mayor Kriseman announced
that St. Petersburg would be the first city
in the state of Florida to commit to transitioning
to 100% renewable energy. What motivated you to
make renewable energy a priority of your city? In St. Pete we have 361 days of sunshine. And so when I became
mayor, our city was really, I don’t mean to use the pun
underwater but we kinda were. We hadn’t done anything to
start getting our city ready for what we are already
experiencing with sea level rise and climate change. And so from executive orders, to hiring a Director of Sustainability, to getting the entire community involved, and creating an Integrated
Sustainability Action Plan. That’s really kind of
what we’ve been doing since I became mayor, to start getting this city ready for what we’ve gotta deal with. I’ve had some people say,
“Well, you’re just one city.” We all have to say, what can
we do to make a difference? What can we do impact climate? How do we mitigate our impact and reduce our carbon footprint? You know, your community
will get behind you. This community is really
behind our efforts. And on top of the environmental benefits, have there been other benefits
that you hadn’t foreseen? Yeah, that’s the thing that
a lot of people are missing, that piece of it is what a
great way of creating jobs, of creating a whole new economy. Whether it’s the people who are doing the installation of solar panels or it’s those who are doing the research on the technologies for batteries. And do you have a timeline of
when you wanna get to 100%? Yes, our goal is to be at 100% by 2035. And then we’re also working on
our greenhouse gas emissions, we wanna reduce them by 80% by 2050. I don’t know if it’s a small
step or it’s a big leap but it’s just taking action. Not being afraid. Not saying, “I’m not
gonna make a difference.” Mayor Kriseman, thank you
so much for having me. I’m so inspired by being in St. Petersburg and seeing all that you’re doing and I hope that you’re gonna be an example to the rest of the country because we need even
more action like this. It’s so important. This is the future of our planet. For those of us who have kids,
what are we leaving them? Since committing to renewable energy, the city has made it easier for residents to get loans for solar panels and energy efficiency projects, as well as paid for
rooftop solar installations on government properties, new electric car charging stations, and solar-powered bike-share
stations throughout the city. The next benchmark on their path to 100% is a citywide 20% reduction
in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. It’s great to see that
cities like St. Petersburg are committed to renewables, but what about the state level? Today I’m in Albany, New York, where organizers are
lobbying state legislatures to make the transition. Daniela, thank you so much
for being here with me today and telling me about your work. Yeah, so, the Climate and
Community Protection Act would be the most ambitious, most progressive legislation
on climate in the country. It truly combines the values
of climate, jobs, and justice. So, the CCPA would it would make sure that and it would make sure that we’re We would be the first state to
set a legally-binding mandate to get the whole of New York’s
economy off fossil fuels. It’s not just electricity, it’s about transportation, it’s about how we heat
and cool our buildings. Because electricity, going 100% renewable is a really great step but for New York it only
represents 20% of emissions. So the CCPA would take
New York economy-wide off of fossil fuels. And why do this at the state
level versus a local level? Energy systems are really complicated and usually operate on a statewide basis. So we need a big framework
on the state level to say we’re all working
toward the same goal of a climate justice
platform for New York State. In June 2019, a version of the CCPA passed the New York State Senate. The Climate Leadership and
Community Protection Act mandates by the year 2050 a statewide greenhouse
gas reduction of 85% and a carbon-neutral economy. The bill is the strongest state
level emissions regulation in the country and will begin to go into effect
before the end of the year. It is so amazing to see that cities running on 100% renewable
energy aren’t an abstraction. And I hope from watching this video you understand this is totally
possible in your community. Find like-minded people and contact your city
council or your mayor. Just start there. Because we need more cities transitioning to 100% renewable energy if we’re gonna fight climate change.

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