Taking Steps Toward Carbon Neutrality

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Are we there, yet?

Not quite, but we are hard at work to get us there.  Many of you came out for our Town Hall event last September and helped develop recommendations for the city.

At the same time, the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) has worked closely with the Stockholm Environment Institute to complete the technical analysis of what it will take for our city to be carbon neutral by 2050.  On Monday, April 11, the Council asked OSE (via letter) to return to the Council by May 9th with this analysis and a draft resolution to adopt high level targets for greenhouse gas reductions in transportation, building energy and waste reduction.  We’ve also asked OSE to present a timeline and milestones for updating the Climate Action Plan and engaging Seattle communities in this process.

OSE will present the report at a Council Briefing on Monday May 23 at 9:30am in Council Chambers – tune in to the Seattle Channel or join us in chambers that morning to hear the details.

In the meantime, we are working on a few other carbon neutral projects based on what we heard from you at the Town Hall:

  • The 7-year update of the comprehensive plan is critical opportunity to incorporate our climate goals into the fabric of all city polices.  OSE is working closely with the Department of Planning and Development to marry these planning processes, which will kick-off later this spring.
  • Speaking of planning, connecting land use to transit was a key recommendation from the land use group. The Council has engaged closely with Planning Commission’s on their Seattle Transit Communities Report to envision how we do this (check out their online toolkit to learn more).
  • We heard that the discussion about carbon neutrality needs to happen at the neighborhood level in terms that connect with your everyday life.  Our Partnership with the Pacific Science Center has allowed us to follow up with neighborhood dialogues on waste reduction and transit in your neighborhood.
  • District Energy should expand in Seattle.  OSE is developing a District Energy Strategic Plan, looking specifically at ten possible sites across the city.  They shared information at a March brownbag and will release results later this year. More on District Energy here.
  • In Waste Reduction, we adopted the yellow pages ordinances (look for an announcement in the next two weeks) and extended yard waste service to multi-family buildings.
  • Young people told us how important school-based waste reduction grants were to get composting programs off the ground in their schools, so the Council restored funding for the program in the 2011 budget.
  • We must engage a more diverse group to achieve these goals. We are planning two events at Greenfest at May – one on youth, art and the environment and another on green careers, which I hope you’ll join us at.
  • My office recently published an article in the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law about Green Jobs and the energy sector called “Seattle’s Green Building Initiative and Housing Retrofits: How Seattle Can Overcome the Obstacles That Face Effective Energy Conservation in the Building Sector
  • Our office is also encouraging our supporters on these issues to check out the Carbon Neutral Initiative blog, the Facebook fanpage and the Twitter feed (@GHGFreeSeattle).

There are many more great projects that we could talk about and that we hope you will continue to bring to our office.  We are looking forward to the next round of discussions about how we are going to be a carbon neutral city.