Last week, full council passed the climate planning resolution I co-sponsored with Councilmember Strauss, stating the City’s intent to address climate change, improve resilience, and advance environmental justice as part of the major Comprehensive Plan update that City is kicking off now, with community engagement this year, policy development next year, and legislation in 2024.
This resolution follows up on HB 1099, sponsored by Representative Davina Duerr and championed by Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, many other legislators, and advocates across the state, which would have required jurisdictions across the state to incorporate climate change as part of their comprehensive planning, to ensure cities and counties are planning for climate-resilient communities while reducing our contributions to the climate crisis. Despite a valiant effort and wide support, unfortunately, the bill died at the last minute this year, leaving a gap in our statewide climate response just as cities and counties are kicking off their comprehensive planning processes.
As we all know and can literally feel today as temperatures hit dangerous levels in Seattle and across the globe, climate change is already having adverse impacts on our communities—with extreme heat, wildfires, and floods impacting communities across our region, with disproportionate impacts on BIPOC and lower-income communities. These climate impacts exacerbate existing inequities that are driving our housing and displacement crises, with BIPOC communities experiencing disproportionate impacts—and we need an intersectional lens to create communities that are resilient to climate change. The resolution outlines areas we intend the City to address in the Comp Plan update, including greenhouse gas emissions reductions, climate resiliency, and adaptation, and environmental justice.
The comprehensive plan is our strongest climate plan—and the single most important thing we can do locally to reduce our contributions to climate change is to create more affordable housing of all kinds near transit. That is why zoning reform is a key part of our climate response to enable more people to live near where they work and reduce the reliance on car travel. And we must create 15-minute communities where our daily needs are a walk, bike, or bus ride away—things like childcare, grocery stores, schools, and parks. At the same time, we need to shore up the resilience of our communities to climate change – for example, by enhancing tree canopy, particularly where there is currently low canopy coverage, to increase air quality and reduce the urban heat island effect as extreme heat events become more severe and frequent. And we must do this with an equity lens to address the disproportionate impacts of our intersecting housing, climate, and displacement crises, by prioritizing our work and investments in communities most impacted – and by providing opportunities for communities that have been displaced to return to the city in healthy environments, and addressing the needs of those at risk of displacement.
This resolution is intended to show leadership locally on all of these issues as we continue to push for action in the legislature to create a statewide requirement so that all cities and counties across the state are doing their part. With this resolution, Seattle is joining a growing list of jurisdictions, including King County, Pierce County, Whatcom County, Bothel, Kirkland, and Redmond in our proactive commitment to addressing climate change in our comprehensive plans.
Thank you to climate advocates for pushing for this legislation as we continue to fight for a statewide and national response to climate change, to Rep. Duerr and our champions in the legislature, and to CM Strauss for your partnership