Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Despite Trump, Broward officials are still in and committed to clean renewable energy

Broward Co Vice-Mayor Beam Furr addressing the crowd.
Credit: Victoria Olson.
On November 17, Sierra Club along with partners and volunteers, held a press conference along the New River in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to send a message to world leaders in Bonn, Germany that Broward leaders are #Stillin, committed to local climate action and a just and equitable clean renewable energy future. Speakers included federal, state, county and local elected officials, as well as partners and community leaders engaged in addressing climate change and building a resilient, sustainable and equitable clean renewable energy future. Over 35 people attended the mid-day press event, which was held alongside a river that already swells up and floods streets, parks and communities as a result of sea level rise.

Sierra Club organizers involved included: Diana Umpierre, Jon Ullman and Patrick Ferguson. Our partners included The New Florida Majority, Organizing for Action, For Our Future, US Climate Action Network, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Food & Water Watch and Citizens Climate Lobby Broward Chapter.


Sierra Club Florida Facebook live:

WIOD 610 AM radio interviewed Sierra Club’s Diana Umpierre on the day before the press conference and covered the event live online:
WLRN 91.3 FM Public Radio broadcasted information about the event in its morning drive time news.


- Opening Remarks: Diana Umpierre, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club
- US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)
- FL Senator Gary Farmer (D-34)
- Broward County Vice Mayor Beam Furr
- Nancy Metayer, Climate Justice Organizer, The New Florida Majority
- Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Vice Mayor Mark Brown
- Theresa Brier, Broward Director for US Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22)
- Daniel Mulieri, Community Outreach Representative for US Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20)
- George Cavros, FL Energy Policy Attorney, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
- Alex Easdale, SE Climate & Energy Network Coordinator for US Climate Action Network

Sierra Club’s Opening Remarks
By Diana Umpierre, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club

Today, in Germany, nations of the world wrapped up their talks at COP23, the UN Climate Change Conference, where they met to advance the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Sadly, last June, President Trump announced the US would withdraw from this historic Agreement. This decision does not represent the will of the majority of Americans, and certainly NOT from South Florida. Many government and business leaders across the United States are reaffirming their commitments to 100% clean, renewable energy. A few days ago, the Sierra Club's Ready For 100 Campaign released a report that showcases 10 of nearly 50 US cities that have made ambitious commitments, which include Orlando, St Pete and Sarasota. Additionally, about 170 mayors across the country signed a pledge called Mayors for 100% Clean Energy. Broward Co mayors have made more pledges that any other county in the US.  We can’t afford to wait to act on climate. Extreme weather events like Irma and Maria that devastated Puerto Rico, where I grew up, are reminders that is more important than ever to act and to end our dependence on fossil fuels. Just yesterday, we heard of oil spilled from the Keystone pipeline. Closer to home, we are facing the threat of oil drilling in Broward Everglades. So, We are Still In, because we have the right to a clean sustainable environment. And, we do this work, not alone, but in partnership with many others, including local leaders like those present today.

Quotes from Speakers

US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23):  “We simply don’t have the option of denying climate change any longer, we deal with these realities every day... Importantly, the failure to address climate change virtually ensures that other countries leapfrog the US in creating clean energy and green jobs, which are the future of the world’s energy economy... The US simply cannot compete in a 21st century global economy by clinging to 20th century energy policy… There’s a reason the business community and labors unions came together to strongly urge the President to remain a part of the agreement. Renewable energy is a massive job creator… If President Trump won’t lead from the top, then America and Americans will lead from the bottom up and make sure we can make improvements so we can arrest global warming and climate change.”

FL Senator Gary Farmer (D-34):  “This is really an issue that is non debatable… 70% of Americans support our involvement in the Paris climate accord and recognize the environmental and business threats caused by rising sea levels and climate change in general.. FL has more private property at risk than any other state in our country… from a purely economic point of view, climate change is a huge threat to the State of FL more so than probably any other state in the country, which leads us to scratch our heads and wonder why our Governor.. [has] turned a blind eye to this issue… We must get America back on the right track and we must reject President Trump’s overtures to forget about climate change. This is our country, this is our state, this is our community and it’s up to us to fight to protect it.”

Broward County Vice Mayor Beam Furr:  “We’ve been in; we are still in and we’re going to stay in...This week, Broward County voted to sign the Under2 MOU… We have an audit going on right now on every single public building to find out how much energy is being used, .. when that audit is complete, we will be looking at the recommendations to see how to keep [greenhouse emissions] under 2 [annual tons per capita]... In addition.. I want everyone to know that we are opposing [oil drilling in Broward] entirely, from every level possible.”

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Vice Mayor Mark Brown:  “When you represent a small coastal community,’s really hard to wrap your head around big scientific concepts like sea level rise and global climate change, but we are just not sitting back and waiting for the inevitable to happen. Five years ago we launched a major coastal resiliency program.. Since that time, we have planted over 65,000 sea oats on the beach.. and 2500 endangered staghorn corals just offshore... These programs are working. Unlike other communities, we suffered no beach erosion or flooding from Hurricane Irma and we were just awarded the 2017 Environmental Stewardship award by the Florida League of Cities for our leadership in developing the coastal resiliency program.There’s a reason why my town is called Lauderdale by the Sea and not Lauderdale in the Sea, that’s the beach… and we’re doing everything we can to stay that way.”

Nancy Metayer, Climate Justice Organizer, The New Florida Majority:  “We are all vulnerable but some communities are more than others. Marginalized communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change. They are faced with the most burden and are able to adapt less. Therefore, I ask our government and local officials to provide equity in emergency response, because [these communities] are the last to get power turned on… exposing them to oppressive heat and life-threatening conditions.. are last to get debris cleaned up leaving them trapped in their homes post-storm… I ask our government to act on climate and to invest in climate resiliency to protect the most vulnerable.. to move towards 100% renewable energy and increase funding to weatherization programs to reduce energy costs for low-income communities and prepare them for solar.”

Theresa Brier, on behalf of US Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22):  “We see the impacts of rising sea levels flooding neighborhood streets and businesses on sunny days. Rising oceans are pushing salt water into the Everglades and freshwater canals, threatening the source of drinking water for millions of South Floridians.. These impacts are being felt around the world. Combating climate change requires a global effort… It is more critical than ever that we move toward a future of clean, renewable energy.. The time to act is now.”

Daniel Mulieri, on behalf of US Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20):  “Climate change is real and we are facing the effects today… That is why, regardless of the lack of leadership from the White House on this critical issue, we must stand together to take strong concrete steps to combat climate change.  President Trump may have isolated the US by making our great nation the only in the world not to participate in the Paris climate agreement but with the response by cities, states and business to step up and do their part, I’m optimistic that we can turn the tide.”

George Cavros, FL Energy Policy Attorney, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy:  “Here are some good news, we have some cost-effective solutions to the climate crisis and I’ll give you an example: it now costs less to generate electricity from solar power than it does from coal, from nuclear and even natural gas. The same holds true for wind. So we are really close to that clean energy future… but we need leadership at the national level to accelerate that move to clean energy so we can mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, we need leadership at the international to coordinate with other countries... Look, we are Americans. Americans lead. That’s what we do. We shouldn’t be sitting in the sidelines.”

Alex Easdale, SE Climate & Energy Network Coordinator for US Climate Action Network:  “Local action is the perfect antidote to federal inaction or in this case, federal opposition…. 227 cities, 9 states, over 1600 businesses, over 300 universities and a million people are still in, so we are the right side of history here… We’ve had mayors from places like Abita Springs, LA and Charleston, SC.. heavily conservative republican areas where the mayors and city councils committed to 100% renewable energy… So, this is not a partisan issue, climate change is a security issue. And it’s not about us anymore, it’s about our kids and future generations.”


Sierra Club Organizer Diana Umpierre introducing the speakers. Credit: Tara Chadwick.

Speakers and attendees posing for a photo after the press event. Credit: Jon Ullman.

Speakers and attendees posing for a photo after the press event. Credit: Susan Caruso.