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Cities and States Lead the Way on Clean Energy Legislation

Cities and States Lead the Way on Clean Energy Legislation

At the Paris summit in December 2015, mayors from around the world met to sign a declaration in support of transition to 100% renewable energy in their cities. With more than half of the global population living in cities, cities are responsible for two-thirds of the global greenhouse gas emissions. This international declaration follows in the footsteps of the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement (2014), which was signed by more than 1,000 U.S. mayors from all 50 states and representing over one quarter of the U.S. population.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion to reduce greenhouse gas emission to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim goal to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 45% in 2025, targets also supported by Mayor Garcetti. Rabbi Joel Simonds, Associate Program Director at the RAC, spoke at both the press conference and in the city council meeting. At the press conference he highlighted the importance of this initiative saying,

We are taught in the Bible not to place a stumbling block in front of the blind, but our actions against the environment have blindsided the most vulnerable among us: the poor, the needy, the marginalized, those who have been left in the shadows, those who have not contributed to this catastrophe are feeling the brunt of climate change. I stand here today, in Los Angeles, this City of Angels, and I fear that what we have done to our environment is anything but angelic. This is an issue of environmental justice and as practitioners of faith we understand our role as stewards of this earth never to be more serious than it is today.  As God’s partners, we stand here today with the commitment to do all we can to help restore this beautiful creation.

Initiatives such as this, taken by the second-largest city in the country, are a major step toward reducing our nation’s greenhouse gas emission, and meeting our pledge to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change international climate agreement. New York is following California’s example: Governor Cuomo announced a plan for 50% renewable energy across the states by 2030. Additionally, over half of the states in the U.S. have renewable energy standards and are taking similar steps to address this climate crisis and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On a national level, as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Clean Power Plan, which provides the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The Clean Power Plan has the potential to develop a clean energy economy, create new jobs and reduce health risks from carbon pollution. States must now develop plans to meet their emissions reductions, similar to the plans recently passed in Los Angeles and New York. Urge your Governor to create an implementation plan that cuts carbon pollution from power plants in a just and sustainable way.

Rachel Landman is the assistant director of 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy in Byfield, MA, where she ran the inaugural summer Israel program, which focused on exploring Israel through the lens of science and technology. She holds a degree in biology from Hamilton College and served as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She is an alumna of URJ Crane Lake Camp and grew up at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue in Brooklyn, NY. 

Rachel Landman

Published: 5/25/2016