St. Pete approves funding for climate change plan
St. Petersburg will spend $800,000 to develop a plan to combat climate change after the City Council voted unanimously Monday to use money from its BP settlement to fund the work.
The council had agreed in principle to spend the money in July, but Monday's action formalized the commitment to retrofit city buidlings with solar panels and otherwise make them more energy efficient, The money would also fund a citywide plan to identify how to save energy and make the city more resilient to hurricanes, rising sea levels and other effects of a changing climate.The city would also spend some of the money to work with Pinellas County to identify countywide vulnerabilities.
Several dozen environmental activists cheered the City Council's decision. The recent presidential election has thrown much of their work into doubt on a national level. Several speakers mentioned a fear that president-elect Donald Trump will ramp up use of fossil fuels and hamper the spread of renewable energy.
"Now with change in national political landscape, it’s up to cities to take action," said Phil Compton, a senior Sierra Club representative.
James Scott, a board member with the local Sierra Club chapter, said Florida will eventually have a competitive renewable energy market and St. Petersburg needs to be well-positioned to take advantage of the jobs it will bring.
Council member Ed Montanari said he had some concerns will parts of the plan, including the purpose of conducting a greenhouse gas inventory, but ended up voting to approve the funding.