Fighting Climate Change in Alabama
Climate Change + Dirty Fossil Fuels
The average temperature on Earth “has risen by 1.5°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 0.5 to 8.6°F over the next hundred years,” according to the EPA. This could lead to catastrophic shifts in climate and weather. In fact, we just experienced the hottest summer on record — again! While climate change is no doubt one of the most debated topics today — whether it be among researchers, politicians, or private citizens — the bottom line is that climate change is real and cannot be ignored. The time has come for Alabamians who care about environmental health and climate justice to come together and address this urgent challenge head on.
As of 2016, 38 percent of electricity generated in Alabama comes from coal — compared with about 33 percent nationwide. However, the state’s largest utility, Alabama Power, generates approximately 50 percent of its electricity from coal, well above the national and state average. In fact, John Kelley of Alabama Power in May 2016 told The Birmingham News, “we expect coal to remain a significant part of our diverse supply of energy sources for many years to come.”
Meanwhile, the Alabama Public Service Commission, the agency tasked with regulating the utility, is obstinately pro-fossil fuel and denies the very existence of climate change. Commissioner Chip Beeker, for instance, proudly wrote on his campaign website, “I believe that […] the so-called ‘climate change crisis’ is about as real as unicorns and little green men from Mars.” Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange consistently opposes every EPA action and joined several other state attorneys general in suing the federal government to block the Clean Power Plan.
It is time for Alabamians who care about our health, our environment, and our children’s futures to rise up and demand real solutions to climate change. We must break the shameful cycle of reactionary thinking that has permeated so much of our state’s social and economic fabric.
What is Healthy Energy?
The extraction, transport, and burning of coal, oil, and gas contributes to environmental degradation, including emission of criteria air pollutants, air toxics, and greenhouse gases. In fact, the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity and power vehicles accounted for more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2016. We believe that a transition away from fossil fuels and to clean, renewable energy — or healthy energy — is the only option for a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama.
Healthy energy is that which comes from solar, geophysical or biological sources; is replenished naturally as quickly as it is used; and does not harm human health or the environment.
Spotlight on Alabama
🏭 Alabama Power’s James H Miller Jr. Plant ranks first in carbon pollution in the United States, according to data collected by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
🏭 The State of Alabama ranks 41st in energy efficiency, while the city of Birmingham an embarrassing 50th out of 51 cities in energy efficiency.
🏭 The bulk of Southern Company’s power generation comes from fossil fuels — specifically, coal and gas. The Southeast’s carbon footprint disproportionately greater than that of the rest of the country.
🏭 In 2019, approximately 70% of Alabama Power’s electricity is generated from fossil fuel sources, including nearly 50% from coal. (Source: Alabama Power 2019 Fact Card.)
POTENTIAL IMPACTS IN ALABAMA
According to the Alabama Report Card published by “States at Risk”:
⚠️ “There is no evidence that [Alabama] has published information acknowledging or assessing its climate vulnerabilities.”
⚠️ “Alabama has taken no action to plan for its future climate risks or implement adaptation strategies.”
⚠️ Alabama has failed to dedicate any “state funding, policies, or guidelines to improve resilience against climate change-related extreme heat, drought, wildfire, or coastal flooding.”
⚠️ “Alabama has taken less action than any other coastal state to prepare for sea level rise and both its current and future coastal flooding risks.”
⚠️ The Birmingham-Hoover metro area is among the nation’s top 15 metro areas that will experience negative economic effects from increased heat and extreme weather events and other consequences. [Source: BirminghamWatch.org]
In other words, Alabamians are woefully uninformed by its government and its policies are wholly inadequate to deal with the health and environmental impacts of impending climate change.
WHAT CAN WE DO ?
No one disputes the fact that the South lags the nation in climate action. That doesn’t mean there are not real solutions available to all of us, from lay person to lawmaker. For instance, the cleanest kilowatt is the one that’s never used and energy efficiency is one tool we can deploy to reduce electricity consumption. Renewable energy should be deployed to generate electricity in clean, sustainable ways. For example, Alabama ranks near the bottom of states for solar capacity and solar jobs.Alabama could generate significantly more electricity from both distributed solar energy (rooftop) and utility-scale solar while creating the next generation of good paying “green” jobs. That is, if our leaders had the courage to lead.
In addition to investing in clean, renewable energy, Alabama needs to make energy and water efficiency a top priority. Alabamians pay the second highest share of their income on electricity bills. The reason is that Alabama is super inefficient with our resources. Low-income Alabamians and those on fixed incomes shoulder the biggest burden — meaning our high bills are effectively a regressive tax on the poor. Alabama’s families could save hundreds of dollars a year on utility costs if the state and its cities would prioritize energy and water efficiency.
Solar for All Alabamians
Sign this petition to show you support solar for all Alabamians. We’ll let you know about further actions you can take to let our leaders know that Alabama citizens should have more choice and lower costs when it comes to solar.
Petition to Declare a Climate Emergency
We are calling on the State of Alabama and each of its major cities to declare a Climate Emergency that states in plain language that climate change threatens the people and places we love in Alabama and across the world. Furthermore, the Declaration should call for a swift expansion of clean energy generation like wind and solar with an explicit goal of achieving 100% renewable by 2030.