Climate Energy

The Pinellas County Commission is considering committing a future powered entirely by renewable energy

With legislative efforts in Tallahassee to convert Florida to renewable power in the coming decades failing, some local governments around the state have set their targets in recent years. The city of St. Petersburg was the very first in the Tampa Bay area to pledge to a cleaner future, followed by four additional cities. November 9, the Pinellas County Commission is going to consider a proposal promising all government activities in Pinellas County to be able to fulfill clean energy targets as well as employ renewable, zero-emission, green energy consumption by 2040, with the entire county committing to similar goals by 2050.

Climate change’s negative effects are already being felt in Pinellas County. According to a map created by Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel, sea-level rise in St. Petersburg is anticipated to rise between one to two and a half feet by 2050.

The Suncoast Sierra Club’s executive committee chair, Bryan Beckman, adds, “This is why we are really striving to obtain more and more backing for these clean energy resolutions.” “To try to decrease that effect on the front side, not just in terms of resiliency, but also in terms of preventing additional increasing temperatures.”

Beckman as well as Suncoast Sierra Club are a portion of a coalition (which includes USF and Eckerd College students) that has been working for two years to have the resolution before Pinellas County commissioners.

The Tampa City Council has approved a non-binding resolution requiring the city’s community-wide activities to run entirely on clean, renewable energy by 2035. This initiative falls short of an earlier plan that asked for the city to switch to a 100% renewable energy portfolio by 2030.

Orlando Democratic House Representative Anna Eskamani has introduced a bill in Tallahassee that seeks for all power in Florida to be produced entirely from renewable sources by 2040 and for the state to have no net carbon emissions by 2050. It’s the fourth time she’s introduced legislation of this nature since entering the Legislature in the year 2019; the three prior attempts have all failed to pass the committee.

“If anyone in Pinellas County should be leading, it’s us,” adds Beckman, whose wife Kathleen is a Clearwater City Council member. “It’s wonderful to see cities joining together, and presently the county has the potential to strengthen it even further.”

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