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Environment

Atlanta Commits to 100% Clean Energy by 2035

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The city in a forest” is reclaiming its nickname by switching to renewable energy. 

A clean and green energy future is less than 20 years away for residents of Atlanta, Georgia.

On Monday, Atlanta became the largest US city in the South to commit to using 100% clean energy, and the  27th city in the US to do so.

Lawmakers passed a measure to transfer all city operations by 2025 over to clean energy, like solar and wind power. Smaller community operations run by the city will make the leap by 2035. 

This means cleaner buses, railways, and other modes of public transportation and sourcing power for city owned buildings from renewable energy. 

The measure was approved unanimously by the Atlanta City Council after being introduced by city councilmember, Kwanza Hall. The Atlanta Sustainability Office will be in charge of developing a plan for the city by January of 2018. 

Read More:How Climate Change Has Managed to Transcend Politics in Miami

"We know that moving to clean energy will create good jobs, clean up our air and water and lower our residents' utility bills," Hall said

Atlanta is the first city in Georgia to make such a commitment. It’s also the largest city in the state, which means the impact for converting to cleaner energy could be great. 

“Just days after hundreds of thousands marched for climate action across the globe, city leaders here in Atlanta are answering the call," Ted Terry, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter said

The Sierra Club is a national environmental organization which dates back to the days of its conservationist founder John Muir. Today, the club still works to protect and keep clean US National Parks. The Sierra Club also launched an initiative — #ReadyFor100 — that encourages mayors in 100 US cities to commit to use 100% renewable energy. 

So far seven US cities from Kodiak Island, Alaska, to Columbia, Maryland are powered by 100% clean energy. However, over 60 others are taking steps, large and small, towards cleaning up their energy plans as part of the #ReadyFor100 campaign. 

For San Diego, the decision to switch “isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” according to San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, co-chair of the Sierra Club’s #ReadyFor100 campaign. 

Chicago, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh are among the few other major cities to make the commitment. 

Investing in sustainable cities is an integral part to achieving the United Nations’ sustainable development goals

Cities are feeling the heat quicker than other regions of the world when it comes to climate change. Coastal cities like New York City, Shanghai, Miami, and others are already dealing with rising sea levels that threatens both residents and economies. 

Read More: Climate Change Refugees

But cities have power to make significant progress on fighting climate change. And according to Atlanta city councilmember Kwanza Hall there are few reasons for cities not to make the switch. 

"We never thought we'd be away from landline phones or desktop computers, but today we carry our smartphones around and they're more powerful than anything we used to have,” Hall said

“We have to set an ambitious goal or we're never going to get there," he said.