This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with Philadelphia, PA’s Mayor Jim Kenney:
What is unique about protecting your city’s resources?
Thankfully, what we’re doing isn’t unique. Like most other cities we’re embracing clean, renewable energy sources and working to lessen our carbon footprint so that future generations will have a clean and livable Philadelphia. I am proud of our Greenworks program and how it engages our citizens directly and provides them with information about what they can be doing to make sure Philadelphia is a sustainable city for everyone. I’m also extremely proud of the school district’s Greenfutures program which teaches the next generation of leaders in Philadelphia how important this is.
Are you concerned about the effects of climate change on the children of your city?
As a human being I’m concerned. Climate change affects everyone, but it hurts our vulnerable populations, like older adults, young children, and people with health problems, more. Excessive heat makes diseases like asthma and hypertension worse, which means our residents with those issues miss more days of work and have to stay in the hospital longer. Addressing climate change will help make our city a more just place for everyone.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important, and how can efforts to address clean air and climate change be achieved in our current political climate?
Climate doesn’t have to be a partisan issue. At the local level, 362 mayors – both Republicans and Democrats – representing 66 million Americans have pledged to meet the international climate goals set by the Paris Agreement. Yes, national leadership on climate change is necessary and critical, but there are plenty of other people who have power to improve things from governors and state legislatures, to public utility commissions, and large companies and institutions.
Is there anything you would like to share with Moms Clean Air Force’s million members?
Now more than ever local governments and households have to take the lead on addressing climate change and converting to clean, renewable energies. In Philadelphia, we have had our sustainability plan, Greenworks, in place for some time now. This plan envisions a city where all Philadelphians are prepared for climate change and reduce carbon pollution. In addition to Greenworks, the Office of Sustainability is completing a municipal Energy Vision to identify opportunities to reduce carbon emissions from building and industry, which emit 79% of Philadelphia’s carbon pollution. The Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems just launched a transportation planning process to increase the equity, safety, and sustainability of our transportation systems. The city has also embarked on plans to reduce waste generation through the creation of the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet. The Office of Sustainability’s Energy Office is developing and implementing energy efficiency projects at city buildings including City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art to reduce carbon pollution through the reduction of energy use. Also, the Philadelphia Energy Authority recently launched a Soloraize program aimed at lowering the costs of solar energy deployment for all Philadelphians. We encourage residents to check out our action guides to learn more about what they can do to help.
A lifelong city resident, Mayor Jim Kenney grew up the oldest of four children in a South Philadelphia rowhome. A decade after graduating from college, Philadelphians elected him to serve as a City Councilman At-Large and, over the next twenty years, Jim stood up for Philadelphia’s working families, fighting for a real living wage and increased funding for public education. In January 2016, Jim was sworn in as the 99th Mayor of Philadelphia. In his first budget, the Mayor worked closely with City Council to fund bold anti-poverty initiatives, including expansion of quality pre-k, the creation of 25 community schools, and $300M investment in parks, rec centers and libraries.