By Meenal Raval
The climate crisis. We’ve all been saddened and alarmed by the news—species going extinct, unbreathable air, ice caps melting, extreme flooding and extreme temperatures. That’s why it’s no longer called “global warming,” but a climate crisis affecting us all.
How do we think our way out of this planetary catastrophe? There’s no one person to blame and no one person who can solve it. Instead of shrugging your shoulders and disappearing into your own virtual reality, read about the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign.
The Ready For 100 campaign aims to increase the demand for renewable energy by focusing on transitioning each local municipality to 100 percent clean renewable energy. Though the volunteer teams continue advocating at the federal and state levels, the focus has been to convince municipal governments of the urgency of the climate crisis and the power we have at the local level to transition our entire town’s public and private energy needs to clean, renewable energy.
To date, one in four Americans now live in a community with a 100 percent renewable energy commitment.
Of the 135 municipalities across the nation, 21 are in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Chester County paved the way in 2017 and now has eight towns committed and working on an energy transition plan: Phoenixville, West Chester and Downingtown in 2017; Kennett and East Bradford in 2018; and Uwchlan, East Pikeland and Schuylkill in 2019.
Delaware County followed suit, with commitments first from Havertown, then Radnor, and, just last month, Swarthmore.
Sierra Club members in Montgomery County started the effort in late 2017, and now eight townships and boroughs have set goals for transitioning the entire town to be powered by 100 percent clean renewable energy. Which towns? Again, in sequence of commitment date: Springfield, Ambler, Cheltenham, Norristown, Plymouth, Narberth, Conshohocken, and most recently, Upper Merion.
Abington and Bridgeport have made a commitment as well.
Each town crafted a resolution in its own words. Broadly, to transition all electricity needs by 2035 and all heating and transportation needs by 2050—or sooner.
As we tell each of our volunteer leaders, once your town makes this commitment, each decision made going forward will require reviewing it with a climate lens. How will this reduce emissions? Or make our region more resilient to extreme weather? Or our people healthier?
This fall, with leadership from Philadelphia City Councilmembers Maria Quinones Sanchez and Blondell Reynolds Brown, Philadelphia will be introducing a resolution committing the City of Philadelphia to a goal of powering our entire city with renewable energy.
No, this won’t be easy. But it will ask each of us to replace any fossil fuel–based application with one powered by electricity or a simpler option. An example is replacing a gas dryer with an electric dryer, or a clothesline.
Are you ready for 100? The question is: Are you ready for clean air? And clean water? And a house that’s less likely to flood? I think we all are.
See readyfor100.org/philly for more.