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Posts tagged ‘climate change’

Happy Earth Day!

This week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Even after 50 years, Earth Day is more important than ever. Earth Day symbolizes a global desire to protect the planet and inspires thousands of actions – big and small – every year. Importantly, Earth Day serves as a reminder that collective action can make a difference.

50 Years of Earth Day

Following the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson joined forces with Denis Hayes, and other environmental activists to create a day dedicated to environmental stewardship. The first Earth Day included 20 million people across the country in peaceful demonstrations and actions for the environment. The event saw the creation of the recycling symbol; moreover, Earth Day sparked large-scale action to clean up pollution, protect wildlife, and, eventually, fight climate change.

The first Earth Day sent a signal to the U.S. government, demanding direct action to protect the planet. As a result of the demonstrations, the United States had the momentum and support needed to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shortly thereafter, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were passed to empower the EPA with key protections for the environment.

With billions of participants celebrating every year by holding garbage clean ups, tree planting, and other volunteer efforts, Earth Day is one of the most significant days of environmental action.

And these efforts are more important than ever. We know that the health of the planet and the health of our communities are inter-connected. 

In 2020, climate action is society’s preeminent environmental issue and is the theme that the Earth Day Network dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

“The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.”

The Earth Day Network on the theme for Earth Day 2020.

Indeed, the impacts of climate change– on vulnerable populations, on infrastructure and institutions, on disease vectors, on food availability & access, on public health, on the financial system — are wide-ranging and not dissimilar from what is happening now with the coronavirus pandemic. This is scary, but the good news is that we are showing how quickly we can mobilize to take action! And that too is one of the lessons from the first Earth Day 50 years ago today.

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See what SLCgreen Accomplished in 2019

You can download the full 2019 Year in Review here.

Happy New Year!

It’s 2020 already and we can hardly believe it! Salt Lake City finished out 2019 strong alongside 19 communities that opted into the Community Renewable Energy Act’s pathway to achieve net-100% renewable energy.

But that’s not all SLCgreen got up to in 2019. It was a busy year, and as a community, we have taken major strides in accomplishing our goals. See our full 2019 Year in Review here and read below for a few of the major highlights.

Thanks to all our partners in City government, other government agencies, non-profit associations, neighborhood groups, business partners, and community councils, we are continuing to make SLC more sustainable and resilient.

You can take a look at the 2017 and 2018 reports to see what we’ve been working on over the last few years. Before we set our sights on 2020, here are a few highlights from 2019!

The Salt Lake City and County Building is visible from the roof for the Leonardo Museum, which has several solar panels installed.

Air Quality, Climate Change & Energy

  • After a three-year collaboration with Park City, Summit County, Rocky Mountain Power, and the state legislature, we successfully saw passage of House Bill 411 the “Community Renewable Energy Act” in the 2019 legislative session. The law establishes a legal pathway for communities with 100% clean energy goals to achieve them in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Power.
  • Helped plan and participated in the historic United Nations Civil Society Conference “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Communities.” See the content of our presentations and related videos here.
  • Expanded public EV charging infrastructure, increasing the total number of city-owned EV charging ports to 38, plus 16 at the airport.
  • With Utah Clean Energy, launched “Empower SLC,” a neighborhood energy efficiency program targeting the 84116 and 84104 neighborhoods to improve energy efficiency and conservation measures that reduce pollution and lower utility costs. As of September, over 450 households have been engaged, resulting in an estimated savings of 335,353 kWh per year!
  • Supported Utah Climate Week 2019, collaborating with 35 organizations to highlight climate action.
  • Developed an energy after-school curriculum for youth groups and created a new partnership with YouthCity on programming for the Fall 2019 programs. This resulted in the adoption of “energy” as the central theme of their Science Fair.
  • Hosted the Elevate Buildings awards luncheon, recognizing first-year reporting commercial buildings with ENERGY STAR scores 75 and above and Mayoral recognition of exceptional performers.
  • Received a Blue Sky Legacy Award from Rocky Mountain Power for over 15 years of partnership in the program.
  • Ranked in the top 10 states around the country for solar energy production increase, according to the Energy Information Administration.
  • Bid farewell to Tyler Poulson and welcomed Christopher Thomas as our incoming Senior Energy and Climate Program Manager.

Food & Equity

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Act on Climate During This Year’s Utah Climate Week

From September 29th through October 5th, Utah is celebrating the 3rd Annual Utah Climate Week.

Organized by Utah Climate Action Network, Utah Climate Week brings government, non-profits, academic institutions, faith-based organizations, businesses, and individuals together to address the impact of climate change in our communities. Utah Climate Week highlights the importance of collaborative climate action towards long-term resilience.

With workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, and local restaurant participation, Utah Climate Week 2019 emphasizes the impact of climate change on Utah and provides many opportunities to share ideas to address the challenges.

Utah Climate Week
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Truck Wraps Deliver Words of Wisdom, Inspire Recycling

Every year, Salt Lake City’s low-emission waste collection trucks get a new look. In years past, the vehicles highlighted downsizing your garbage cans, the beauty of recycling, and the goal to ditch disposables. This year, the truck wraps deliver words of wisdom to inspire more thoughtful consumption and better recycling habits.

Truck wrap with Annie Leonard quote: There is no such thing as away. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.

Taking a Cue from Annie Leonard, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Robert Swan

One side of this year’s truck wraps display useful mantras encouraging SLC residents to recycle. The other side features quotes from three prominent environmental activists:

Annie Leonard is the founder of The Story of Stuff Project, which advocates for reducing our consumption and being more thoughtful about where our stuff goes. As her truck wrap quote says: there’s no such thing as away.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental activist and former senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He currently serves as president of the grassroots Waterkeeper Alliance. His quote succinctly emphasizes the impact of sustainable living on our country’s well being.

Echoing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s sentiment, Robert Swan’s quote is a call to action for every individual to take steps towards protecting the environment. Robert Swan is a climate activist and the first person to walk to the North and South pole. His organization, 2041, works to educate the public about the impact of climate change on the environment, especially at the poles.

By quoting these leaders, the truck wraps pinpoint the importance of community action geared towards protecting the environment and building sustainable communities.

One of the easiest ways to follow in the footsteps of these activists is to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Truck wrap with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. quote: The most patriotic thing you can do is to take care of the environment and try to live sustainably.

Is Recycling Still Worth It?

Presented on the flip sides of the trucks are statistics about SLC’s waste management habits. In particular, they emphasize the importance of proper waste diversion in the form of recycling and composting.

Does that surprise you? With recycling changing as markets adjusted to new rules from China on contamination, there has been question as to whether recycling is even “worth it” any more.

We’re here to tell you it is and that’s a key point we wanted to emphasize with the new truck wrap designs. Let’s take a moment to dig in to that detail:

The recycling import ban that came from China in 2018 has complex causes and also underscores that recycling is a commodity market that has always experienced ups and downs.

But there is good news amid the shake-up. In particular, it’s forcing U.S. recycling processors and consumers to get back to basics: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle . . . Properly.

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Mayor Biskupski Urges Climate Action Before Congress

On Tuesday, April 2, Mayor Biskupski appeared before the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change to discuss how a warming planet is affecting Salt Lake City– from our air quality, to wildfires, to drought, to the ski industry, and more.

To see the full testimony, watch the video below (Mayor Biskupski begins at roughly 2:40:40)

See news coverage here:

  • Deseret News: Salt Lake City mayor urges action on climate change in testimony before congressional committee
  • Salt Lake Tribune: Biskupski touts Salt Lake City’s efforts to address climate change and urges the federal government to step up
  • KSL: Salt Lake City mayor urges action on climate change in testimony before congressional committee
  • KUER: Salt Lake City Mayor: Cities Are Already Fighting Climate Change, Now Washington Needs To Step Up

Her written testimony is included below. Also check out her 5-minute remarks on the Mayor’s site.

FULL WRITTEN TESTIMONY

Mayor Jacqueline M. Biskupski
Testimony before the Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change
April 2, 2019

Committee Members:

Thank you for welcoming me here today, and for taking the time to hear from local elected officials on the topic of climate change.

My name is Jackie Biskupski. I’m proud to serve as Mayor for the 200,000 residents of Salt Lake City—a position I’ve had since 2016. I’m also Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Alliance for a Sustainable Future—a committee dedicated to forging connections between the public and private sectors to collaboratively tackle our environmental challenges. I’m also co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy coalition, and a member of Climate Mayors and Women 4 Climate.

Salt Lake City is a majestic and special place.  Over 25 years ago, I came to Utah for a ski trip and I never left! We are the crossroads of the west and are blessed to have world-class recreation, breathtaking natural splendors, a strong economy, a vibrant culture, and a collaborative spirit.

Today I am here to discuss what we are already experiencing in Salt Lake City, and how we are working tremendously hard to avoid the worst effects that are projected. But we need your help.

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Things are getting HOT!

Urban Heat Islands Increase the Effects of Climate Change

by Emily Seang, SLCgreen intern

On a hot summer day, it feels like heat is coming from everywhere and anything.

We’ve had a lot of those days lately.  In fact, July of 2018 was the fifth hottest on record (July 2017 was the hottest!)

Warm July 2018

The National Weather Service, Salt Lake City office, has calculated our July 2018 temperatures as being the fifth warmest on record.

There’s no question that temperatures are climbing as a result of climate change.

In cities, however, there’s also another factor at work. Read more

Wildfires + Fireworks + Ozone (Oh July!)

 

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Wildfire in Federal Heights, July 6th. Courtesy of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

by Talula Pontuti, SLCgreen intern

For weeks, we have experienced wildfires across the state, primarily in the southern part of Utah, where firefighters are fighting tirelessly to protect communities and landscapes.

Those fires have not only destroyed homes, habitats, and landscapes, but the fires are contributing to poor air quality in those areas and throughout Utah.

In addition, fireworks from the Fourth of July increase particulate matter, aggravating respiratory conditions for those with preexisting respiratory and heart illnesses, such as asthma and heart disease.

Combine the fires and fireworks with ozone created by vehicle and product pollution – and we have the perfect mix for poor air quality.

Understanding what is going on and what our impacts are on air quality in our city is critical to being able to keep people healthy and having fun this summer. Read more