The Salt Lake City District School board unanimously passed a resolution at a recent meeting, establishing the goal of transitioning the school district to 100% clean electricity by 2030, and off fossil fuels by 2040.
The effort was led by students from Salt Lake’s three major high schools, in collaboration with Utah Sierra Club and Sierra Club’s Climate Parents program. Prior to the meeting, students submitted a petition in support of the resolution signed by 800 district students, parents and staff.
100% clean energy is growing among school districts to address climate change and promote access to high quality learning environments. Some benefits of this commitment include, saving money on energy bills, improving indoor air quality through energy efficiency measures and creating opportunities to improve STEM learning by exposure to on-site clean energy technologies.
Los Angeles, Milwaukee, San Francisco and smaller districts in Minnesota have also made similar commitments.
Parents, teachers and community members watched the virtual school meeting to demonstrate broad support for the resolution. Community members and local organizations also submitted letters of support, including Utah Sierra Club, Climate Parents, Utah Clean Energy, the Salt Lake City Sustainability Office and HEAL Utah.
The Student 100% Clean Energy team, Sierra Club Utah and Climate Parents have been working together since last fall and were able to continue during COVID-19 via digital engagements.
Andie Madsen, a leader of the Students for 100% Clean Energy team, said, “We are really grateful for the board’s leadership in transitioning our district to 100% clean energy, and we’re inspired that something we put into motion as young people will be put into action by our district.” She added, “People in our generation are facing a lot of uncertainties, from COVID-19 to the climate crisis, and this is a win we’re happy about because it demonstrates our commitment to building the strength of our communities.”
Mahider Tadesse, stated, “When I started an environmental club at East High in September, I never thought our involvement would reach this level of impact. This campaign has shown me what a big difference a group of high schoolers can make in leading the way for climate action that has the potential to expand equity by investing cost-savings into underserved students and improving indoor air quality, which will help students–myself and community included–who are disproportionately exposed to air pollution where they live.”
“I think that 100% clean energy is important for SLCSD because it positions students as leaders on climate action, and with young people being particularly vulnerable to fossil fuel pollution, it is important that schools advocate for climate solutions,” stated Lola Maldonado, 10th grader.
“The passage of our resolution will help bring Utah into a clean energy future. Supporting renewable energy is critical as climate change worsens. Implementing this resolution will help benefit our entire community and help advance the broader movement toward 100% clean energy,” said Eve Jeffries, 11th grader.