As a chemical engineer, I firmly believe that climate change is an ongoing pandemic that requires immediate attention. If we fail to take action today, we will be doomed to face the consequences for years to come. I am convinced that we need to expand our environmental policy and incorporate it into every aspect of our city. Only by integrating climate change into all areas of government can we hope to truly tackle this global issue.
My plan involves a number of key initiatives, all designed to help us achieve a clean energy future. First, I want to achieve 100% clean energy by 2035, which means incentivizing sustainable development, instituting solar bulk purchasing programs, and developing a clean energy workforce training program. I also want to provide free public transit by 2030, increase the supply of diverse housing options, and reduce the energy burden on the most overburdened households in Atlanta.
In addition to these efforts, I am committed to protecting Atlanta's tree canopy. I believe that a new Tree Protection Ordinance is necessary to safeguard our city's greenery and ensure that we maintain our status as the "City in the Forest." I am working with the Department of City Planning to balance economic development with environmental preservation, and I am partnering with organizations like Trees Atlanta, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and Chattahoochee Riverkeepers to further these efforts. By encouraging amenity-driven, transit-oriented, mixed-income projects, we can create space for growth without infringing on the tree canopy.
I am passionate about clean energy because I believe it can advance equity, lower bills, and create new, good-paying jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities. Clean energy is a powerful tool that can reduce energy burdens, stabilize costs, and promote economic development. By investing in weatherization, energy efficiency, rooftop solar, and community microgrids, we can create thriving communities that are resilient in the face of climate change.
As mayor, I was proud to see Atlanta ranked 3rd on the EPA’s Energy Star Top Cities List and #33 on NAFA’s Top 50 Green Fleet Award. It was the first time the City had made it into the top 50, which was a significant achievement.
Under my leadership, we were committed to ensuring Atlanta was built for the future, and in 2022, we were named the Climate Action Leader and made CDP’s A List for the first time. We were thrilled to improve from a C to an A in just one year with the support of Georgia Tech’s Sustainable Cities Studio.
One of our goals was to increase fresh food access, and we were able to achieve 75% fresh food access. Our aim was to ensure 85% of Atlanta residents were within a 0.5-mile radius of fresh, affordable food by 2022.
We also made significant progress on our climate action plan goals, achieving 42.5% on our way to the City’s 40% GHG reduction by 2030 interim Climate Action Plan goal and 43.4% progress on our 30% interim clean energy goal by 2025.
We also relaunch the Clean Energy Advisory Board, and we continued planning to expand the Solar Atlanta Program from 1.2 MW to around 5MW. This program was the largest solar program of any local government in the state of Georgia, and it included solar installations on 21 City-owned buildings, including fire stations, recreation centers, DWM buildings, and other City-operated buildings.
Last year we also reduce costs, improved efficiency, and increased our effectiveness through the purchase of new equipment and routing software. We created an internal mobile app that allowed special operations teams to record and report daily assignments and leveraged maintenance skills from our trained mechanics to build new surveillance equipment.
Lastly, we graduated the 10th Sustainability Ambassadors Program class, which brought our total alumni to over 300. We officially codified the Office of Sustainability and Resilience as a stand-alone office within the Department of the Mayor, ensuring that sustainability remained a top priority for Atlanta.