Moving Towards 100% Renewable Energy: Drivers Behind City Policies and Pledges

Lead PI: Kelsie DeFrancia, Hayley Martinez , Alix Schroder

Unit Affiliation: Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management (SPM)

June 2017 - April 2018
North America ; United States
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: As the United States federal government retreats from energy and environmental regulation, local and regional efforts across the U.S. are scaling up. Cities, in particular, are intensifying their commitments to fight climate change and are playing an increasingly important role in the sustainability of the planet. Energy is at the center of the sustainability challenge, as it is both central to modern life and causes environmental and socio-economic damages through our dependence on fossil fuels. Cities are beginning to understand the importance of a renewable energy economy to maintain a healthy living environment for their communities, as well as to ensure the future sustainability of these communities. / One way cities are demonstrating their energy priorities is by pledging to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 under the Sierra Club’s ‘Ready for 100’ campaign. This paper surveyed 56 cities that have made the community-wide commitment to 100% renewable energy, over half of which have pledged since just 2016, analyzing the primary motivations for these pledges, including but not limited to: financial and economic opportunity; public health; environmental preservation; climate goals and action plans; and lack of federal action. It also examined the structure of these commitments, tools used for implementation, political challenges, and the importance of collective efforts in meeting environmental goals.

OUTCOMES: In April 2019, Hayley Martinez, Kelsie DeFrancia, and Alix Schroder presented their research on why and how cities have committed to this campaign at the 76th Annual Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago. In May 2019, Kelsie DeFrancia presented the research at the International Conference on Sustainable Cities at Fordam University in New York.



Arianna Menzelos


energy climate change renewable energy


Sustainable living