In August of 2019, the City of Knoxville passed city and community-wide carbon reduction goals. Last week, local groups gathered the day before the City's annual budget retreat, to urge leaders to "Show Some Love" for climate program funding and work towards meeting the goals.Kate Tracy and Brady Watson | February 14, 2020
On Thursday, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), along with representatives from One Knox Legacy Coalition, Sierra Club, Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED), Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light (TIPL), and Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), gathered outside the Knoxville City government building to thank recently elected Mayor Kincannon as well as City Councilmembers for supporting Knoxville’s carbon reduction goals and to ask them to “Show Some Love” for climate policy funding ahead of the City budget retreat.
In August of 2019, the City of Knoxville passed carbon reduction goals that aim to cut city government carbon emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and cut community-wide carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Meeting these goals with renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation can help lower Knoxvillians’ electricity bills, improve air quality and public health, protect Knoxville’s unique natural spaces, and reduce the worst impacts of climate change that have already begun to affect Knoxvillians as we’ve seen with recent flooding.
Watch the full video of the press conference here, or read below for some highlights from local groups.
COMMUNITY VOICES COLLECTIVELY CALL FOR CLIMATE ACTION
Joanne Logan, Knoxville Chapter Chair for the Sierra Club who has spent 40 years as a scientist studying climate, started off the gathering by reminding us that the consequences of climate change are already upon us and will become more extreme the longer we fail to act to mitigate it.
“I think energy efficiency is super important. When we look at the latest update to the IPPC report, which was released about a year ago. It is a dire, the situation. I think it is way more dire than a lot of us like to even talk about. Whenever we go up, even a little bit in temperature, we’re dooming more people who are struggling.”
Logan looks forward to City Council and the Mayor for taking steps to mitigate climate effects by reducing carbon emissions.
Calvin Taylor Skinner, co-founder of the One Knox Legacy Coalition and candidate for mayor last year emphasized the impact vulnerable communities will feel as a result of climate change.
“It’s a justice issue, an economic justice issue, and an environmental justice issue.”
Skinner also highlighted communities who are susceptible to economic stress that is caused by poverty and the stress and strain by energy [fees] that have increased in recent years. Last year, the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) previewed a budget forecast that did not include further increases to the basic mandatory charge or fixed fee portion of customers electric bills for at least two years – an issue that SACE continues to track.
Stefan White spoke about the work his organization, SEEED, is doing to create more economic opportunities with job training for energy efficiency weatherization programs. As a reminder in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) long-term planning process, the utility gutted energy efficiency programs that help Tennessee cut energy usage, reduce energy waste and lower electric bills.
Maggie Shober, Director of Utility Reform at the SACE wrapped up the press conference noting that the past decade was the hottest one on record and subsequent decades will continue breaking heat records. Shober referenced recent extreme flooding in Knoxville and the need to address the climate crisis with both mitigation and adaptation moving forward.
“If we do not see action from KUB and TVA on these issues, we as a community will keep the pressure on.”
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you live in Knoxville and want join us supporting leadership on climate action and push for real solutions that will benefit Knoxvillians today and in the future, sign this petition and stay tuned for more ways you can get involved and #RenewTN!