Despite Pledges, Birmingham Lags on Efficiency, Renewables, Sustainability

Patience is running thin among advocates who want Alabama's largest city to take environmental sustainability seriously.

U.S. 280 in Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Sam Pickett/Birmingham Watch
U.S. 280 is one of the main highways in Birmingham, cutting from downtown to the ever-expanding southern suburbs. Providing mass transit down the corridor to reduce emissions has been debated for more than 20 years, with no solution reached. Credit: Sam Pickett/Birmingham Watch

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—Mayor Randall Woodfin promised in December to pivot toward prioritizing sustainability during his remaining two years in office, moving to fulfill a pledge he made during his 2017 campaign.

Caught off Guard

But for some, Woodfin’s administration—and Birmingham’s municipal government—has been frustratingly inert when it comes to environmental issues.

For instance, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2019 scorecard for cities ranked Birmingham as 72nd among 75 major cities in terms of sustainability efforts, saying the city “has substantial room to improve across the board” and should push toward codifying goals for clean and renewable energy.

“We’ve got a whole lot more environmental justice and sustainability issues to address within the next two years, but we’ve laid the groundwork and foundation to address these environmental issues in our city,” the mayor told BirminghamWatch as part of a regional collaboration with InsideClimate News,  “Caught Off Guard: Southeast Struggles with Climate Change.”


This story was published as part of a collaborative project organized by InsideClimate News involving nine newsrooms across seven states. The project was led by Louisville, Ky.-based James Bruggers of InsideClimate News, who leads the Southeast regional hub of ICN’s Environmental Reporting Network