New policy will require City to formally consider impacts of all new legislation on carbon emissions and resiliency to climate change
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved Resolution 31933 crafted by Councilmember Alex Pedersen (District 4, Northeast Seattle). The Resolution will, for the first time, require the City Council to formally consider the crisis of climate change when reviewing new legislation. The recurring wildfires that choked Seattle’s air with harmful smoke were an ominous backdrop as Councilmembers recognized the urgent need to contemplate new legislation through the lens of climate change.
Currently, all the Council’s legislation requires a “fiscal note,” which measures the financial implications of proposed legislation. Pedersen’s legislation expands this analysis by asking City departments to assess whether new legislation would increase or decrease carbon emissions and whether it would strengthen or weaken Seattle’s resiliency to climate change.
“The harmful wildfire smoke that’s been contaminating our air for weeks is a jolting reminder that the climate crisis is here and now,” said Pedersen. “Our city government must consider the environmental impacts of every decision we make or risk finding ourselves in a devastating and irreversible situation. By asking these basic questions about carbon emissions and resiliency to climate change with each new piece of legislation, Councilmembers will be better informed about the impact when casting their votes. I was happy to craft this resolution because it exemplifies another common cause shared between our City Council and Mayor. Working together, we can improve Seattle’s environment for everyone.”
Councilmember Pedersen chairs the Council’s Transportation and Utilities committee, which carries a portfolio of issues impacting the environment. This resolution was inspired by this scope of work and the “carbon note” concept from Dr. Cathy Tuttle, a climate activist who ran for City Council in the 2019 primary. Tuttle said, “While climate action requires global solutions, right now American cities and large companies need to take the lead on decarbonizing our transportation, building, and utility sectors. By adding carbon impacts to its Fiscal Notes, Seattle City Council will give decision-makers and the public good information about how to reduce greenhouse gases as we grow our economy and build healthy communities. I’m optimistic this bold proposal from Councilmember Pedersen and the Seattle City Council will lead to greener, cleaner legislation and funding decisions.”
The Washington State Director of Climate Solutions, Vlad Gutman-Britten, said, “Seattle must act with urgency to cut our climate pollution and accelerate the clean energy transition we need. We must ensure that future policies our city adopts cut climate pollution, and so adding climate considerations to Fiscal Notes is a good first step to better understanding how City policies impact the climate–and thereby our health, finances, safety, and more. We look forward to offering our expertise to the city departments as they implement this policy and strive to improve their tools for analyzing emissions.”
The City Council’s Governance and Education Committee passed Resolution 31933 unanimously on Friday, September 11. CLICK HERE to read the Resolution.