Washington D.C. has just doubled down on its commitment to clean energy investment, as city lawmakers voted last week to pass legislation mandating 100 percent renewable electricity in the capital by 2032. Previously the city had been under the Clean Energy D.C. Omnibus Act of 2018, which committed to procuring half of its electricity from zero-emissions sources – now it will strive to go big or go home.
Despite the Trump administration’s pro-fossil fuel agenda, the legislation was passed by lawmakers unanimously. “This bill should be a boost to advocates nationwide,” said Camila Thorndike, D.C. campaign director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund.
The legislation will tackle the goal from several angles, first by establishing higher fees on electricity from fossil fuels. It will also require all public transportation and privately owned fleet vehicles to emit zero carbon dioxide by 2045. Lastly, the legislation will create a task force that will help develop ambitious energy-efficiency standards for existing buildings, the White House included.
“This bill is among the most ambitious pieces of climate legislation in the country, and today it became law because the D.C. community demanded it,” Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “The decisions made and policies discussed within the nation’s capital affect the country, and the world.”
According to the Sierra Club, already 90 cities and two states have pledged their commitment to reach 100% renewable electricity. Several cities have already reached those goals (congratulations Aspen, Colorado; Burlington, Vermont; Georgetown, Texas; Greensburg, Kansas; Kodiak Island, Alaska; and Rock Port, Missouri!). D.C. hopes its move will encourage other cities to take similar actions.
“Even though by ourselves we are a small jurisdiction, we can serve and have served as a model for other jurisdictions,” said the Democratic councilwoman who authored the original bill, Mary Cheh. “More importantly, we are in a loose association with other local and state jurisdictions so that even though the federal government is in default of international climate accords, we will meet them.”