Across the nation, cities are signing up for the Ready For 100 Challenge. This campaign, created by the Sierra Club, involves a pledge to commit to the use of 100% renewable energy for all community members. This equity focused mission connects energy justice with the need for clean energy as the impacts of climate change intensify. With the movement centered on community-level action, smaller towns and communities are enabled to take action and play a role in combating climate change.
Oftentimes, environmental policies get held up at the state and federal levels. However, the Ready For 100 challenge enables community members to take matters into their own hands and encourage support for sustainability goals at a local level. This initiative presents a path for local communities to unite and take action against climate change, without getting caught in the political gridlock that is associated with national politics.
This initiative is needed now more than ever as climate risks pose a growing threat to human health, food security, water supply, and economic growth. According to a report by the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Environmental Research, Ohio in particular faces significant threats associated with a changing climate. Alterations to surface water levels will limit transportation along waterways, which will hinder the robust manufacturing industry. In addition, agriculture and outdoor recreation will be impacted as ecological changes destroy the habitats of crops and wildlife involved in those industries. Lastly, more frequent and intense storm patterns will result in increased flood damage across the state.
However, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the adoption of renewable energy, combined with energy efficiency strategies, can achieve over 90% of the energy-related carbon-dioxide emission reductions that are required to meet national climate goals. The Ready For 100 challenge allows communities to bring this fact to light and create a roadmap for decarbonizing local economies, a key element of sustainable development.
Currently, eight states and over 150 cities have committed to transition to 100% renewable energy. Moreover, over 50 cities have already completed this transition and are fueled entirely by clean energy sources. In Ohio specifically, Cincinnati and Lakewood have committed to obtaining 100% renewable energy by 2035 and Cleveland has committed to achieving that goal by 2050. Hundreds of Mayors throughout the nation have also pledged their support for this challenge, including Mayor Blackwell of Maple Heights and Mayor Kessler of Bexley. In addition, Mayor Ginther of Columbus recently announced that the city would include a new measure on the upcoming November ballot to establish community choice aggregation in order to enable households to guarantee that their energy is entirely renewable. This falls in line with the Columbus pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
These commitments throughout the state present a promising sign in the fight against climate change, but there is still more to be done. Carbon neutrality is not nearly as strong of a commitment as 100% renewable and will not support sustainability goals to the same extent. Following the Sierra Club’s guidelines to achieving 100% renewable energy provides policy models and implementation strategies that have proved to be successful throughout the U.S. These steps are thus a great start to supporting renewable energy and pushing forward sustainable development in Ohio.