City Council Introduces Climate Action Plan on Earth Day

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City of Seattle

Councilmember Mike O’Brien
Council President Sally Clark
Councilmember Richard Conlin

City Council Introduces Climate Action Plan on Earth Day
Plan provides pathway to carbon neutrality by 2050

SeattleSeattle City Council introduced Seattle’s Climate Action Plan today, outlining the City’s path to meeting its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The Plan focuses on three sectors where the City of Seattle can have the greatest influence in reducing carbon emissions: transportation and land use, building energy and solid waste. The Plan also includes a section on how the City should prepare for the impacts of climate disruption we currently experience, as well a section on actions individuals can take to reduce emissions through purchasing decisions.

"Taking climate action is not about austerity. It is about creating great places to live, work and play today and for future generations," said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee. "This Climate Action Plan provides a vision for a city that is vibrant, economically prosperous and socially just." 

"The strong actions in this plan are evidence of the high value that the Seattle community places on sustainability," said Jill Simmons, Director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment. "Throughout the planning process, we heard from individuals and organizations who encouraged us to be bold and think long-term."

Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment has been developing the Climate Action Plan since 2011, engaging grassroots sustainability groups, environmental leaders and business and community members from across the city. The City also formed Technical Advisory Groups in each sector addressed in the Plan and convened a Green Ribbon Commission to recommend specific climate actions.

"With its natural beauty, strong economy and commitment to equity, Seattle is an amazing place to live. The Climate Action Plan lays out clear path to ensuring Seattle remains a great place to live and raise a family, while also doing its part to combat climate change," said Doris Koo, Co-Chair of the Seattle Green Ribbon Commission. 
"Even before the first Earth Day in 1970, Seattleites have taken pride in our city’s commitment to protecting the environment through innovative thinking, hard work and zeal," said Seattle City Council President Sally J. Clark. "I’m proud we can introduce our Climate Action Plan on Earth Day, 2013, as yet another milestone in our city’s dedication to making a difference for the planet."

The Climate Action Plan includes specific short- and long-term actions the City needs to meet its ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. For example, the transportation sector accounts for 40% of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions, but the biggest challenge Seattle faces to reducing emissions in this sector is funding. The plan calls for new funding sources like extending the Bridging the Gap levy and securing local authority for a motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) to help improve bus service and reliability, invest in improvements that make it easier and safer to walk or bike and take steps to build out the region’s light rail system. The plan also calls for supporting the adoption of low carbon vehicles and fuels.

In the building energy section, the Plan calls for accelerating Seattle’s work to make energy use more visible to consumers by switching to smart meters, providing better energy performance information to building owners and users and generally helping people better understand and manage their energy consumption. Additionally, the Plan calls for getting the right mix of policies and incentives to spur retrofitting in Seattle’s housing stock and commercial buildings.

"We have already seen the impact of a changing climate. We must act now to slow down the rate of climate change, and to respond to the issues as our climate is affected," said Councilmember Richard Conlin. "Together we can rise to this great moral challenge, take practical steps in the right direction, inspire others to emulate our example and build a positive future for Seattle."

"Seattle residents and businesses are leaders in the fight against climate change," said Mayor Mike McGinn. "I appreciate the hard work done by our citizen committee to craft recommendations for our updated plan and look forward to the Council’s process for adopting the strongest possible Climate Action Plan. I thank Councilmembers O’Brien and Conlin for their leadership in this effort."

The Climate Action Plan will be discussed in two Energy and Environment Committee meetings–Tuesday, April 23 and Tuesday, May 14–and will also be the topic of a public town hall on Tuesday, May 7 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at University Heights Center.

The Climate Action Plan can be viewed online at:

[View in Council Newsroom]