Recently, the County Commission approved the largest purchase of hybrid fleet vehicles in Shelby County Government’s history. In addition, the Division of Planning and Development has been awarded $500,000 in federal grant funding to implement an electric vehicle pilot program in our Roads, Bridges, and Engineering Department. We have a long way to go but these historic expansions are a good place to start.
Though we are currently experiencing the most serious public health emergency in the last 150 years, another global emergency was already looming. As you may know, the West Coast is suffering from unprecedented wildfires and the Gulf Coast is being devastated by rapidly intensifying hurricanes. These kinds of disasters, and others, are more likely to happen as a result of climate change.
Last year, more than 11,000 scientists across the globe signed onto an article agreeing “clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.” Leaders across the world contend that we have a very limited amount of time to take bold action before the effects of climate change are irreversible.
Unfortunately, nearly 70 federal climate and environmental policies that sought to address the climate emergency have been reversed in recent years. And more policies that would benefit our planet are at risk for reversal. It is clear that local governments and communities will have to pick up the slack to do what we can to help save our planet, or at least our corner of the world.
We have taken action to do our part but we can do more. This year, the County Commission voted to approve a historic capital investment in public transit. The dedicated funding of at least $1 million a year could help Memphis Area Transit Authority replace some of its aging fleet with energy efficient buses. This investment alone could save tons of greenhouse gas emissions from ending up in our air.
We have more work to do. If we do not continue to act, the Mid-South will continue to experience extreme rising temperatures, more severe weather and natural disasters, and more flooding over the next 50 years.
Though our community is facing so much hardship already, I believe we can take any challenge we face head-on. As we’ve seen over the course of our first two years in office, there is much we can accomplish when we work together.
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