St. Petersburg, Florida, is the 20th U.S. city, and the first in Florida, to commit to using 100 percent clean, renewable energy, according to an announcement this week from the environmental organization Sierra Club. The St. Petersburg City Council approved the measure unanimously.
The latest commitment to using renewable energy from St. Petersburg follows an executive order this year from Mayor Rick Kriesman that set the goal of eventually getting to net-zero energy use. The city reportedly approved allocating $250,000 of settlement funds from the BP oil spill toward a so-called roadmap to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. The massive 2010 BP oil spill, also known as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, devastated the Gulf of Mexico and various Florida communities.
Renewable energy and solar especially, have become a point of focus in the Sunshine State. Still, just .11 percent of Florida utility customers owned a renewable generating system last year, the Tampa Bay Times reported in July. The state did vote down a misleading solar energy amendment in November that was backed by utility companies and would have effectively made it more expensive for consumers to covert to using solar energy.
Renewable energy can be a key component to help fight climate change, a battle that may become increasingly difficult under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has expressed doubts about climate change being real. In a press statement, the executive director of Sierra Club said that helping improve the environment should not be a political issue.
"The movement for clean energy in cities and towns across the country is now more important than ever," Michael Brune said. "Whether you’re from a red state or blue state, clean energy works for everyone and local leaders will continue to move forward to create more jobs, stronger communities, and cleaner air and water."
In a meeting with reporters from the New York Times Tuesday, Trump appeared to soften his stance on climate change, conceding there was "some connectivity" between humans and the issue. The idea of climate change caused by human activity is something that is accepted by nearly the entire scientific community.
Trump also told the Times Tuesday he had an open mind about an international climate agreement approved by world leaders last year in Paris that was aimed at mandating energy shifts worldwide to help combat climate change. That's a significant shift from a man who once claimed climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government.