Los Angeles, a town driven largely by car culture, officially directed its public utilities to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
As a result, L.A., America’s second largest city, has also committed to becoming the first major U.S. city to switch to all renewable energy — and to do it in less than 20 years.
The motion was one of the few positives to come from the 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak, which released 97,100 tons of methane — the equivalent of adding another half million cars—to Los Angeles’s already crowded freeways.
“This decision sends a strong signal to cities everywhere that it’s no longer a question of whether we’ll get to 100% renewable power, but how fast?” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California.
The hard work will fall on the L.A. Department of Water & Power, as the L.A. City Council has directed it to work with academics, engineers, and stakeholders from business to private homeowners to map out the path toward 100% renewables.
It’s a tough goal to hit since 60% of the city’s electricity comes from coal and natural gas.
This is just one of many green energy initiatives launched by the city recently: $57 million was spent on new LED street lights to replace older, less efficient ones that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60,000 metric tons every year.
“Los Angeles can lead the way and show cities around the country – and around the world – that clean energy is here and ready to power thriving economies,” Council Member Mike Bonin said.
At least a dozen cities from San Francisco to Miami are considering similar commitments to increase the use of renewable energy, with the Sierra Club estimating as many as 50 cities with some kind of plan in place by 2017. Two smaller cities, Burlington, Vermont and Aspen, Colorado already produce 100% of the energy they use from renewable sources.
As for California, its larger state government has already committed to achieving 50% renewable power by 2030.
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