PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
A March for Science in New Orleans on April 22 brought attention to climate change and other environmental and health issues.
New Orleans will aim to reduce emissions by 50 percent in 2030, as Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials commit to the international agreement on climate change from which President Donald Trump has withdrawn the U.S.
After declaring the dramatic effects of climate change on south Louisiana an "existential threat
" facing New Orleans, Landrieu unveiled an ambitious "Climate Action for a Resilient New Orleans
," which proposes 11 strategies and 25 actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide. He also signed an executive order
committing to the goals as guided by the action plan.
"Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our coastal communities, nation and world,” Landrieu said in a statement. “In New Orleans, we face a triple threat: subsidence, coastal erosion and sea level rise. If unchecked, New Orleans, like many coastal cities, will be forced to retreat. This strategy will help us transition to a low-carbon economy that not only helps manage our climate risk, but also creates new businesses, jobs, and wealth.”
The city plans to "modernize" energy use with low-carbon "clean" fuels by gradually moving Entergy to adopt low-carbon resources, adding at least 225 megawatts of local solar power use, and generating a total annual energy savings of 3.3 percent by 2030.
The plans also also calls for the end of coal-fired power from the city's energy portfolio, which is currently at 4 percent. Entergy is on track to reduce its coal use to less than 1 percent by 2030.
Transportation infrastructure will aim to "reduce car dependence," with residents encouraged to use public transit with a goal of reducing car dependency by half by 2030.
New Orleans also will aim for a functional "zero waste" citywide waste system by 2050, with at least 50 percent of waste diverted from landfills by 2030 by encouraging recycling and composting.
Last month, the New Orleans City Council issued a resolution
committing to the goals set forth in the Paris agreement, including adopting energy-effieciency measures and using renewable energy resources.
The resolution followed Trump's announcement of his withdrawal from the agreement, which then-President Barack Obama joined in 2015 along with dozens other countries in committing to lowering emissions to shrink the global footprint on climate change.
Landrieu also joined
60 U.S. mayors representing more than 30 million people to "uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement" by adopting policies on a local level despite federal agencies' potentially reneging on environmental protection efforts.
New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams, who chairs the Council's Utilities Committee, commended the plan, which he said is consistent with the Council's energy agenda over the last decade. "At a time when some of our national leaders still reject direct evidence that human action is devastating the environment, it is critical that state and local leaders take responsible action to protect our environment," Williams said in a statement. "Considering the overwhelming data before us, it is time to take a longer more critical look at the way we do things."