On July 12, a coalition of environmental, social justice and faith-based groups gathered at the Climate Knoxville Action event in Market Square to show strong support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change impacts. These groups also joined together to advocate for Knoxville’s Smarter Cities Partnership — an initiative to improve the city’s sustainability through cost-effective energy efficiency efforts, including a program to weatherize inner-city homes and reduce the burden of high utility bills on low-income residents. Over 100 people came out to learn more about these efforts and to show their support for a cleaner, greener Knoxville.
The event featured live music, comedy acts and speakers promoting action on climate change. Erin Gill, Director of the Knoxville Office of Sustainability, began the event by invoking enthusiasm to protect our communities and to support effective climate policies. Subsequent speakers included:
- Axel Ringe (Sierra Club);
- Dean Rivkin (Professor of Law, UT Law School);
- Stephanie Langley (SOCM);
- Jim Gray (SEEED);
- Rev. Barbara McKinney (Clayborn Temple AME Church);
- Taylor Allred (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy);
- Dr. Jack Fellows (ORNL);
- David Hayes (SPEAK);
- Jennifer Alldredge (Alliance to Save Energy);
- Dan Brown (Knoxville City Council member);
- Chris Lunghino (Beyond Coal Campaign);
- Roberta Boone (TN Interfaith Power and Light);
- Rev. John Butler (NAACP); and,
- Ann League (Appalachian Voices).
SACE had a solid presence at the event, with two full-time staffers in attendance, in addition to myself and another intern. In his remarks to the crowd, SACE’s Climate Knoxville liaison, Taylor Allred, noted:
“SACE is very proud to be a part of the Climate Knoxville network. We are strong believers in thinking globally and acting locally, and climate change is a central issue in SACE’s mission. … Climate change is one of the biggest problems facing humanity, but we can make a huge difference by empowering people with the information they need to voice support for much-needed regulations to reduce our nation’s carbon dioxide emissions and to shape their own behaviors to make sure that they are a part of the solution rather than the problem. … One important role we can play as individuals is to make sure that we are using energy efficiently – both in our homes and in our workplaces. … Energy efficiency is the best way to help people to minimize their utility bills while creating a strong clean-energy economy and new green jobs.”
Climate Knoxville is a step in the right direction toward bringing clean energy and successful climate policies to the attention of the people of Knoxville. Climate change is no longer an issue of the future; it is an issue of the present. It is vital that events like this continue to grow in Knoxville so that we can empower local communities, and show officials that there is widespread public support for policies that effectively combat climate change.
Do you support the reduction of carbon pollution emissions from power plants too? Take a minute now to let EPA know.
For more information about EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Knoxville’s Smart Cities Partnership, check out these other partner organizations within Climate Knoxville: Alliance to Save Energy, Appalachian Voices, Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee, Harvey Broome Group/TN Chapter of the Sierra Club, NAACP—Knoxville Branch, Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED), Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville (SPEAK), Tennessee Beyond Coal Campaign/Sierra Club, and Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light (TIPL).
To see more photos from this great event, click here.
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