Savannah, Ga. -- In a remote meeting Thursday evening, The Savannah City Council voted unanimously to adopt a community-wide goal of 100 percent safe, clean and renewable electricity by 2035. The Council also took steps to keep Savannahians safe from the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We applaud Mayor Van Johnson and the Council for their visionary leadership -- it would be no easy task to fight against the coronavirus or a similar pandemic while also dealing with the worst impacts of climate change such as flooding and more devastating storms,” said Jennette Gayer, Environment Georgia’s Director. “This is 100% the right example to set for our vulnerable coast in these challenging times.”
Savannah is now the fifth city in Ga. to commit to transition away from polluting energy sources that damage our environment and contribute to climate change, joining Atlanta, Athens, Augusta and Clarkston.
“The coronavirus is reminding us that the most vulnerable among us hurt the most when disaster strikes,” said Dr. Mildred McClain, Executive Director of the Harambee House. “This new approach to energy means we can combat climate change and work to redress historical inequities in our community that have hurt frontline and fenceline neighborhood for decades.”
The resolution lays out a timeline that will take Savannah from roughly 6 percent safe, clean and renewable electricity today to 100 percent. Specifically:
Savannah will meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with safe, clean and renewable energy sources by 2035. The City will work to attain the interim targets of 30 percent clean energy by 2025, and 50 percent clean energy by 2030.
Savannah will meet 100 percent of its energy needs (transportation, heating, etc.) with 100 percent safe, clean and renewable energy sources by 2050.
To begin the process of meeting these goals Savannah will seek input and develop a clean-energy action plan within 18 months.
The resolution also emphasized the need to transition to a just and equitable energy future. Analysis leading up to the drafting of the resolution found that many households in Savannah spend an above-average percentage of their monthly income on electricity.
The 100% Savannah Clean Energy Initiative Coalition officially launched in February with a standing room only town hall. The Coalition consists of nonprofit groups, including Environment Georgia, the Harambee House, Center for a Sustainable Coast and the Climate Reality Coastal Georgia Chapter, as well as businesses and students.
"It is heartening to see the Mayor and City Council demonstrate much needed leadership in the face of an ever-worsening climate emergency,” said Karen Grainey with The Center for a Sustainable Coast. “I hope that more local governments in Georgia will follow Savannah’s example – especially here on the coast where sea-level rise is projected to adversely affect our future in dramatic ways if humanity fails to achieve the IPCC's emission reduction targets."