The Forsyth County Commissioners, to their credit, approved a resolution stating Forsyth County’s intention of moving toward a complete transition to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050, 5-1. The resolution is non-binding; it has no teeth. A 2030 climate action resolution was discussed before the Commissioners moved the goalposts back to 2050.
“Winston-Salem’s always been at the forefront,” an activist stated during public comments. Unfortunately, Winston-Salem, through its parent corporation, R.J. Reynolds, has been at the forefront of supporting Republican climate change deniers and climate denial organizations like ALEC.
Climate denial itself can be traced back to Big Tobacco. R.J. Reynolds, along with Phillip Morris and other Tobacco titans perfected deceptive public relations in their campaign to keep Americans smoking. Their “Tobacco playbook” was emulated by the coal and oil industries.
The Forsyth County Commissioners meet in the Forsyth County Government Center, a restored former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco factory. The conservatism of the Reynolds, Hanes, and Grays is still present in the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. They function as a conservative firewall, preventing progressive change that the majority of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County’s residents favor. The last progressive action to come out of an R.J. Reynolds factory was Local 22’s unionization movement in the 1940s.
Thursday, as the 25th U.N. Climate Change Conference, called COP25, was taking place in Madrid, Spain, the Forysth County Commissioners showed how little they care about Climate Change. For the Commissioners building a courthouse that will be the most expensive building in the county’s history is their top priority, followed by giving $30.5 million to Kaledium. (Neither project was approved by voters.)
As temperatures continue to rise and the effects of Climate Change become ever more challenging to address, it’s up to us to light a fire under the County Commissioners (and the City Council) if we want the change that we deserve.
48:48-public comments supporting the measure
60:40-commissioners debate the measure
66:05-Richard Linville rambles
76:20-Don Martin clarifies just how watered down the resolution actually is. “Moving toward” replaced the original language of “committed to.”
86:25-David Plyer, “There is nothing that binds any future board…”