Vote for 100% renewable energy should be slam dunk
On Monday, Dec. 19, the Sustainable Madison Committee likely will vote on recommending a community-wide, all-sector goal of 100 percent renewable energy to the Madison City Council. This vote should be a slam-dunk “YES” since the city has already endorsed this same goal.
On Sept. 11, 2013, Madison and the roughly 40 other partners of Capital Regional Sustainable Communities, which was federally funded from 2011-2013, endorsed by consensus a 2050 Climate Action Plan framework. That framework calls for 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 or sooner, while reducing all climate-disrupting emissions, whether gases or particulates. The framework recommended doing this without risky nuclear energy, polluting big hydropower, or food-competitive biofuels.
Importantly, conservation of energy was given first priority, although a numerical target was not set. (Earlier this year, a decision was made to incorporate the energy conservation goal from Madison’s 2011 Sustainability Plan: a 50 percent reduction in overall energy use by 2030 or sooner.)
These were bold and audacious goals in 2013, yet Madison’s endorsement was joined by representatives of the cities of Fitchburg, Middleton, and Monona; the villages of DeForest and Waunakee; the towns of Dunn, Springfield, Sun Prairie, Westport, and Windsor; Dane County; and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Madison Metro, and Madison Area Transportation Planning Board.
In addition to these and other municipal entities, organizations ranging from the Madison Area Builders Association and the Realtors Association of South Central Wisconsin, to the Urban League of Greater Madison and YWCA Madison also endorsed the 2050 Climate Action Plan framework.
With over $2 million in federal funds and other resources, and even more from capital-area participants as well as state of Wisconsin organizations like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the UW-Madison, the Capital Regional Sustainable Communities was likely the largest public participation process in Wisconsin.
Additionally, in October 2013, these 40 or so endorsers asked Dane County to fund the drafting of an all-sector, all-county 2050 Climate Action Plan. Since 2013, the county has twice budgeted for initial work on the CAP.
Requisite baseline inventories were completed this autumn, and the report included recommendations that the results be used to inform drafting of a CAP using the 2050 framework. Exemplars were also identified, including the CAPs that have been adopted unanimously by Tompkins County, New York, and the major higher education institution there, Cornell University (already so successful that Cornell has accelerated its timeline for completion).