Last night, the Knoxville City Council approved a resolution in support of federal action on climate change, the promotion of clean energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution. The Climate Knoxville network developed and proposed the resolution, which was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Mark Campen and Daniel Brown and Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis. The resolution’s approval represents a major victory in the Knoxville community’s ongoing fight against manmade climate change, which requires local action toward global solutions.
Economic development was a key part of the discussion on climate action. Mayor Madeline Rogero spoke in support of the resolution and emphasized that environmental protection is essential to ensuring future economic growth. Councilmember Nick Della Volpe expressed concerns about potential economic impacts of rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but the resolution ultimately passed without opposition. For the record, multiple independent analyses have found that taking bold action on climate change and transitioning to clean energy is a major opportunity to grow the economy, not hinder it. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the Clean Power Plan (the newly proposed limits on power plant carbon pollution) will save taxpayers between $55 billion and $93 billion in 2030, while Rocky Mountain Institute concludes that the United States could transition to 80% renewable energy by 2050 while growing the economy 158%.
Mayor Rogero also noted that Knoxville was recently recognized as a Climate Action Champion by the White House, and that she has served as a member of the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Knoxville is one of 16 communities nationwide to be recognized as Climate Action Champions. The only other Climate Action Champion in the Southeast is Broward County, Fla.
Climate Knoxville is a network of equal partner organizations, including Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Sierra Club, Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light, Alliance to Save Energy, Appalachian Voices, Energy Home Basics, Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee, Harvey Broome Group, NAACP – Knoxville Chapter, SEEED, Smokey Mountain Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, SOCM, SPEAK and Temple Beth El. The central mission of Climate Knoxville is to create nonpartisan opportunities for social justice, environmental, health, ecological, educational and faith organizations in Knoxville to work together for climate protection and resiliency.
Below (and to the right) is the language from the resolution passed by the Knoxville City Council.
A RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE IN SUPPORT OF REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS POLLUTION, FEDERAL ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY, AND THE PROMOTION OF CLEAN ENERGY.
WHEREAS, the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) issued a report on November 2, 2014 – based on 30,000 scientific papers studied by over 800 authors and 2,000 reviewers – that concluded “continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems”; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. National Climate Assessment concludes that Americans are being affected by climate change and that states in the Southeast region are particularly vulnerable to extreme temperatures, decreased water availability, forest disturbances, and severe and frequent weather events; and
WHEREAS, the Union of Concerned Scientists reports that higher temperatures from climate change will exacerbate ozone pollution, one of the main ingredients of smog, and cause other negative public health impacts through climate-sensitive diseases and poor air quality; and
WHEREAS, in Knoxville many efforts are already underway to mitigate and respond to the impacts of climate change; and
WHEREAS, since 2007 the City of Knoxville has implemented an Energy and Sustainability Initiative (“ESI”) with the goal of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with City operations and the Knoxville community each by 20% by 2020 relative to 2005 levels; and
WHEREAS, through the implementation of the ESI and other actions, the City of Knoxville has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from City operations by nearly 13 percent and the Knoxville community by nearly 8 percent; and
WHEREAS, the City of Knoxville is working through the Smarter Cities Partnership to improve the energy efficiency of Knoxville’s aging inner-city housing stock; and
WHEREAS, in 2008 the U.S. Department of Energy selected Knoxville as a Solar America Cities partner to help accelerate the promotion and adoption of solar energy technologies; and
WHEREAS, the City has been named as a Climate Action Champion by the White House for its efforts; and
WHEREAS, in 2013 the Tennessee Valley Authority (“TVA”) awarded Knoxville a Platinum rating in the TVA Valley Sustainable Communities Program for a commitment to integrating economic development into sustainability efforts; and
WHEREAS, Mayor Rogero is a member of the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change; and
WHEREAS, in 2014 Mayor Rogero signed the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, which has now been signed by more than 1,000 U.S. mayors, and supports Federal and local action to mitigate and adapt to climate change; and
WHEREAS, according to the American Lung Association, coal-fired power plants comprise the nation’s largest stationary source of air pollution and have no current national limitations on carbon pollution; and
WHEREAS, in 2012, power plants and major industrial facilities in Tennessee emitted more than 50 million metric tons of carbon pollution, equal to the yearly pollution from more than 11 million cars; and
WHEREAS, on June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants nationwide.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE:
SECTION 1: The Council of the City of Knoxville hereby endorses federal, state and local government action to address climate change and to develop policies that reduce carbon pollution, increase consumer savings, prioritize energy conservation and efficiency, and increase the use of renewable energy resources.
SECTION 2: Upon adoption, the City Recorder is hereby respectfully requested and directed to forward a true and correct copy of this Resolution to the EPA Administrator.
SECTION 3: This Resolution shall take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it.