Full Title: Investigating City Commitments to 100% Renewable Energy: Local Transitions and Energy Democracy
Author(s): Sabrina Vivian, Kanchan Swaroop, Matt Haugen, Samantha VanDyke, Sydney Troost
Publisher(s): School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan
Publication Date: June 1, 2020
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Greenhouse gas emissions are rising at an unprecedented rate and posing an immediate threat to human and ecosystem health. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is from human activities that include the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. Renewable energy serves as a viable solution to replace fossil fuel generation to create a healthier environment. Increasing awareness of both the necessity and opportunity surrounding renewable energy development is resulting in climate action at the municipal-level. Cities are physically formed around energy infrastructure, and therefore they have the ability to be powerful change agents in transformative energy policy and enact worldwide action.
A number of United States (U.S.) cities are proposing and implementing bold sustainable solutions in order to combat the social, environmental, and economic impacts of climate change. Cities of all sizes around the country are taking control by pledging to reach community-wide goals of 100% renewable energy. However, many of these cities are unsure of how to meet these commitments. Although the renewable energy potential throughout the U.S. is strong, cities are facing other types of challenges that are hindering their ability to progress swiftly to meet the commitment.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, in partnership with a student-led team at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, wants to enable progress toward local and equitable 100% renewable energy access and use by compiling recommendations and resources for achieving an energy transition that incorporates energy democracy. In this report, energy democracy refers to the implementation of participatory forms of energy governance and civic ownership. ILSR and the team also partnered with the Sierra Club through their Ready for 100 campaign to fully assess 100% renewable energy commitments across U.S. cities. The goal of this report is to utilize qualitative and quantitative data through a national survey and case studies to help understand the mechanisms that will best enable cities and their decision-makers to equitably transition to 100% renewable energy