Tampa Mayor Jane Castor: Leading on Sustainability & Resilience

Susan Glickman | December 14, 2020 | Climate Change, Electric Vehicles, Energy Justice, Florida

In an era where political leadership is all too rare, it’s a treat to applaud Tampa Mayor Jane Castor for her vision of Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow. 

As part of this broader effort, The Mayor is setting in motion a Tampa Resilience Roadmap – to be released in early 2021 – and the development of the City’s first-ever Climate Action & Equity Plan. Tampa is my hometown so I am especially honored to join a distinguished group of individuals asked to serve on Mayor Castor’s Sustainability & Resiliency Advisory Team to develop these tools for The City.

This is big news and these efforts will help ensure a prosperous future for the City of Tampa with strategic initiatives in transportation, housing affordability, workforce development, development services, and sustainability and resiliency.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor

I’m proud to serve along with an exceptional group assembled by Mayor Castor, among them Congresswoman Kathy Castor who Chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in the US House of Representatives, and CJ Reynolds, Director of Resilience & Engagement for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council that will take action on sustainability and resiliency.

CJ Reynolds, Susan Glickman, and Cong. Kathy Castor

The Mayor deserves a lot of praise

Mayor Castor is working to ensure that Tampa is better prepared for the shocks and stressors coming our way as a result of a changing climate. Threats such as extreme heat and sea level rise are many – but if we act now, there are many opportunities to secure a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future for our community and state.

To overcome complex problems – and combatting climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time – we have to get out in front of them. 

In this case, we must both adapt to climate impacts already in the pipeline – such as sea level rise, extreme heat, and mosquito-borne diseases –  and, perhaps more importantly, we must dramatically mitigate, or reduce, the pollution causing these problems to avoid the worst implications. In short, when we find ourselves in a hole, we must first stop digging, and then find ways to work ourselves back out. Tampa is taking a step in the right direction toward doing just that.

In May, Mayor Castor hired Whit Remer, the City of Tampa’s first-ever Sustainability & Resiliency Officer. He is doing a great job developing the climate action and resiliency plan and tackling urgent issues, such as sea level rise and stormwater management. He is spearheading the city’s sustainability and resiliency road map and Tampa’s transition to 100% renewable energy in a way that ensures equity and environmental justice for all Tampa citizens. 

As a part of Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow, there are long-term plans to move to 100% electric vehicles (EV) by purchasing 10 additional vehicles each year. The City just made progress by adding 9 new EVs to its fleet.  This is a critical step in the right direction, since taking gas-driven, internal combustion engines off the road is one of the fastest ways to reduce dangerous carbon pollution. Mayor Castor is also being a good steward of tax dollars since EVs will also save money for the city: Consumer Reports recently released a study showing that when total ownership cost is considered—including purchase price, fuel costs, and maintenance expenses—EVs come out ahead, especially for more affordable cars. Over the life of most EVs, savings range from $6,000 to $10,000. 

On a long journey, the first step is often the hardest. Mayor Castor learning the ins and outs of an electric vehicle.

Tampa is just getting started on a path to resilience and sustainability. We have the tools. We have the technology. All we need is the political will. And thankfully, Tampa has strong leadership looking to the future. 

Congratulations Mayor Castor!

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Susan Glickman
This blog was written by a former staff member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
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