Michigan Mayors, Legislators, Utilities Say Act on Climate
President Donald Trump may have called for a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, but Michigan’s cities, businesses, and universities have announced their intent to fulfill the agreement goals anyway.
Local action on climate is more important than ever. So far, sixteen Mayors joined the National Mayors Climate Action Agenda that penned a letter to President Trump in opposition to his actions thus far against climate change. The Michigan cities who signed on all understand that in addition to climate, vast health and economic benefits are at stake. Below is a list of cities that signed on.
- Ann Arbor
- East Lansing
- Grand Rapids
- Pleasant Ridge
- Royal Oak
- Traverse City
These Mayors can make advances in their corner of the world by working with their community from the individual level to the business and industry level. They can establish benchmarking and transparency policies for building owners to annually measure and report the energy and water use. They can push for conducting energy audits (detailed assessments of how the building could improve its energy performance through upgrades) and make sure to follow through on identified energy efficiency improvements.
The legislature is no stranger to energy and climate work. Last December, the state passed comprehensive energy legislation that improved aspects of the energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards both of which help drive down carbon emissions from the energy sector and drive up the economy. Not ones to be complacent, recently some legislators called for even more progress towards Michigan’s clean energy future. State Senators Hoon-Yung Hopgood and Rebekah Warren alongside State Representatives Donna Lasinski and Jon Hoadley announced a bold proposal to increase Michigan’s use of clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency with bills calling for an increase from one to two percent energy efficiency standard and an increase from a 15 to 50 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2035. Their bills would reduce energy costs, create jobs and build upon the recently enacted energy laws.
It should be noted, that not all legislators will support these bills, and some have even backed the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. However, it should also be noted that the clean energy economy is alive and well in their neck of the woods. Below is a table outlining the legislators against the Paris Agreement and clean energy jobs data for the counties their districts are in. Clean energy doesn’t see partisan county lines.
Industry wide, utilities are seeing the declining economics of coal and the need to shift to low carbon alternatives. Enter the unexpected new breed of climate action champions: utilities.
Of late, Michigan’s DTE Energy has been particularly vocal. First, Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson announced a plan to reduce DTE's carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050. It is a plan less geared to trend and more to what he and many others see as an essential transformation to clean energy. More recently at an event last week he said, "Our sector will be well served to get out in front of this [need to decarbonize] and let the world know that we've got this one and that we'll deal with this issue." Anderson goes on to say that lucky for us there is no trade off. "You can have a healthy economy and a healthy environment at the same time."
Decarbonization boasts extensive support. It has been echoed from cities, legislators, and utilities alike to create an overwhelming chorus for climate action. Do your part, make your voice heard, and together we can deliver on our climate goals to reduce emissions and deploy clean energy.