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Glendale is still in! Glendale officials support Paris climate accord, strive for renewable energy at city hall

Jeff Rumage

GLENDALE - President Donald Trump may have taken the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, but Glendale officials are now pledging to uphold the spirit of the international agreement with ambitious renewable energy goals at Glendale City Hall.

The Paris climate accord, which strives to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, has received support from 195 countries — all but Syria and Nicaragua.

President Donald Trump announced June 1 that the U.S. will withdraw from the agreement and negotiate a better deal. 

Despite the U.S. withdrawing from the agreement, 298 mayors from American cities have upheld their commitment to the agreement's goals. 

Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy wants to be the latest mayor to join the group, known as Mayors National Climate Action Agenda. Madison, Milwaukee, Middleton and Monona have all joined the group.

As one of the first steps to joining the group, the Glendale Common Council approved a resolution Monday, June 12, supporting the goals of the Paris agreement.

Most notably, the resolution sets a goal for Glendale City Hall to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy sources by the end of the upcoming city hall renovation project. Beginning in 2018, Glendale City Hall will be renovated in phases and is expected to be completed in 2021.

To accomplish this ambitious task, Kennedy suggested the city might partner with Johnson Controls, which wrote a letter in support of Glendale's resolution. Kennedy said he and the city administrator will meet with Johnson Controls in July to discuss further partnering with the company to meet its renewable energy goals. 

"It behooves us as a city — as a headquarters for one of the major leaders in this particular technology — to step forward and say that we are committed to these same goals as a city," Kennedy said. "It's an opportunity for us to be a leader."

James Daugherty, who founded and managed a solar panel company in Milwaukee for three years, said he supported the city's renewable energy goals, but would rather not have the council take a stance on the Paris agreement.

"I'm all in favor of the general direction of this, but I'm disappointed by the fact that we are bringing national politics into what I consider to be a non-political, non-partisan situation," Daugherty said.

Alderwoman JoAnn Shaw was concerned that renewable energy could cost more money, thus taking away funds from other city services.

Kennedy said the resolution does not legally bind the city toward making any actions, which City Attorney John Fuchs confirmed. Although the city's goal is to go completely renewable, it's possible that the remodeled facility will not meet that goal.

"Our commitment to strive for these goals doesn't cost a single penny of taxpayer dollars," Kennedy said.