Recap and next steps on the Climate Action Plan

This week, the Seattle City Council and the Office of Sustainability & Environment completed the final of three public forums to discuss the Climate Action Plan.

At our first forum, Making Energy Use Visible, we heard from guest panelists Brian Geller (2030 District and Green Ribbon Commission member), Aaron Fairchild (Green Canopy Homes) and Michael Woo (Got Green) discussed actions Seattle can take to reduce the carbon footprint of our buildings. In addition to the panel, we then broke up into smaller groups that each dug into a different sector of buildings—one group took on residential buildings and the other discussed commercial buildings.

The second forum, Connecting Transportation & Land Use, was organized in the same way with a panel followed by small group discussion. Guest panelists Rob Johnson (Transportation Choices Coalition and Green Ribbon Commission member), David Cutler (Seattle Planning Commission) and Maggie Wykowski (Puget Sound Sage) discussed actions Seattle can take to reduce the carbon footprint of our transportation system.

We concluded our public meetings this week with a Climate Action Plan Open House here in the Bertha Knight Landes community room at City Hall. Here we invited interested community groups to attend and help facilitate small group discussions on a wide range of issues that relate to climate change, from local food policy to alternative transportation choices to our waste reduction efforts.

These public forums were a great success for me because they gave me a chance to interact with many of you around the climate actions you would like to see Seattle taking in the coming years to help us achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Here are some of the key takeaways I heard from the participants at these forums:

  • Achieving our climate goals can and should be integrated with achieving our vision for compact, walkable neighborhoods with access to transit and services.
  • People want to see more bicycle infrastructure that makes biking safer (such as separated bicycle lanes) and that makes riding between neighborhoods easier.
  • We should be more aggressive with incentives for energy efficiency programs. When we do so, we need to be sure to include programs for renters and multi-family housing so all households can benefit from the cost savings and healthier environments that come with lower energy use.
  • Building a local, resilient food system is an important part of adaption planning. We should focus on preserving farmland near the city and continue to expand opportunities for urban farming in the city.
  • The City should continue aggressive action towards our zero waste goals. We have work to do on food waste disposal in commercial, multi-family buildings and should work to ensure food waste disposal is accessible in all schools.

There are still opportunities to provide feedback and input on the forthcoming Climate Action Plan. Visit the Climate Action Plan website to take a survey asking for your input on specific sectors that the plan will address. You can also submit your comments on that page or send your thoughts to climateactionplan@seattle.gov. Please get your thoughts and feedback in by the end of February, when the official public comment period on the Green Ribbon Commission recommendations will conclude.

Beginning in March, the Office of Sustainability and Environment will take all the feedback and ideas we have heard and will receive over the next two weeks and develop a draft Climate Action Plan that will come to Council in late March or early April. My goal is to adopt a Climate Action Plan via resolution by Earth Day (April 22, 2013).

Finally, have you watched this incredible video yet? You really must, and then share it with your social networks with #SoGreen and let us all know what actions you are already taking to help fight climate change!

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