City should act now to steer funding toward projects that address climate change and climate justice

City should act now to steer funding toward projects that  address climate change and climate justice
February 25
11:00 2021

By Jamie Maier and Miller Coffey

The Biden-Harris administration is taking immediate action to address climate change and its impacts on people and communities across the U.S. Just hours after taking office, President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, canceled the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, and ordered federal agencies to review and reinstate more than 100 environmental regulations rolled back by the Trump Administration. Biden has committed to pass legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, creates green energy jobs, and provides new sources of federal funding in support of environmental initiatives. 

This national commitment to climate action comes with billions of dollars of funding for municipal and regional “green” projects and infrastructure. The City of Winston-Salem must act now to secure this funding and grow our reputation as an innovative, resilient, and forward-thinking community.

The City has already made some important commitments to climate action, including passing a resolution in November to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050 and committing to a focus on green job training, job creation, and economic growth. We at Piedmont Environmental Alliance (PEA) encourage the City of Winston-Salem to take the following action steps today to steer national funds toward projects that address climate change and climate justice:

*Create a 5-year comprehensive renewable energy plan for the City that includes stricter building codes, increased energy efficiency in city buildings, and a plan to transition the city fleet to electric vehicles. If we act now and utilize new funding opportunities, Winston-Salem could be the first North Carolina city to reach 100% renewable energy in municipal buildings. 

*Improve local public transportation, with an emphasis on effective, accessible, and equitable options for all people. National transportation infrastructure legislation is on the horizon, with important funding opportunities for cities who are ready to adopt better and greener transportation systems. This move would also improve quality of life and employment outcomes for low income residents, whose reliance on the current transportation system is a significant barrier to economic mobility.

*Create a plan with measurable goals for green job training and creation. The Biden administration has signaled that they will call on state and local communities to implement green job training and infrastructure development through partnerships with community colleges, unions, and the private sector. Winston-Salem should utilize connections with Forsyth Tech and locally-based corporations to build job skills among residents and invigorate the local economy.

*Incentivize low-carbon manufacturing standards and other environmental business standards. Upcoming legislation could fund a transition to a low-carbon manufacturing approach. The City should prioritize public-private partnerships with businesses that adopt standards early and utilize funding opportunities that become available. 

Now is the time for leadership on climate change and climate justice. Piedmont Environmental Alliance looks forward to working with residents and local government officials to build a more resilient, just, and sustainable Winston-Salem.

Do you want to see Winston-Salem become a leader in sustainability and climate action? Send a message today to share your support and vision with city leadership by going to

Jamie Maier is the executive director of Piedmont Environmental Alliance, a local non-profit working to build a more just, resilient, and sustainable community. 

Miller Coffey is the communications and engagement coordinator at Piedmont Environmental Alliance.

Piedmont Environmental Alliance (PEA) works every day to educate and empower people of all ages, build community, and inspire action to create a more just, resilient, and environmentally sustainable community. Founded in 2006 with the first Piedmont Earth Day Fair, PEA is building a community of environmental stewards and community leaders through our innovative education programs, annual events, partnerships and community-based work focused in Winston-Salem and the Piedmont region. Learn more about PEA and all of our programs at 

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