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Seattle Adopts Bold Climate Action Plan, Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050

By Kirsten Gibson, Guest Contributor

"Seattle Adopts Bold Climate Action Plan, Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050"

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The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a far-reaching Climate Action Plan Monday, with the ultimate goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2050.

The ambitious plan, crafted by city officials and community members, provides a long-term vision for reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions while building vibrant, prosperous communities.

Specifically, the plan focuses on three areas where Seattle can benefit the most from improvements: transportation and land use, building energy and solid waste.

“We can do something meaningful, not just for the planet, but also to create the city we want to live in, one that is safer to walk and bike and has cleaner air and water,” said city councilman Mike O’Brien.

The plan includes improving and expanding the city’s bus system, building the infrastructure to make it safer to walk or bike around, and building out the region’s light-rail system. These moves would help reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent, according to the Seattle Times.

To curb building energy costs, the plan details the continuation of projects to weatherize homes and to develop a way to rate home energy performance when a house is listed for sale.

Ways to conserve of electricity and water were identified as areas to improve upon and preparing for the possible impacts of climate change on at-risk populations, such as the poor.

The plan also includes strategies to prepare for adverse climate effects that the city could be subject to, such as identifying flood prone areas and creating land use plans that would adapt for rising sea levels.

In addition to the city council’s climate plan, Mayor Mike McGinn announced an energy efficiency initiative that will cut emissions and could save homeowners 35 to 50 percent in energy costs.

Many cities have prioritized plans for climate change in the wake of unprecedented extreme weather and rising average temperatures. On Monday, 45 mayors from cities across the country pledged to take action to prepare and protect their communities from the increasing disasters and disruptions fueled by climate change.

And in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, released an extensive climate resiliency plan last week. PlaNYC includes 250 recommendations to address the reality of climate change and prepare for its impacts.

Kirsten Gibson is an intern for ThinkProgress.

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6 Responses to Seattle Adopts Bold Climate Action Plan, Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050

  1. fj says:

    Great news but not nearly bold enough and the target should be 2020.

    With accelerating extreme climate events, if we do not act fast enough, highly vulnerable cities may become non viable and things of the past

    • I agree, it should be this year or next, but I think all the Wall Street bond holders have their paper committed to 2050.

    • fj says:

      Yes, the world’s major cities should get around the scale of truly effective action that they can achieve net zero in about five years or less.

      As a back of the envelope example, New York City must seriously consider spending something like $200 billion per year to go net zero in five years.

  2. Speake says:

    For god’s sake, you live in SEATTLE!! you’ll be burning your furniture from October till June to stay dry and warm.

  3. Paul Magnus says:

    so now we see how leadership plays the key role in addressing climate.

  4. Rob Harmon says:

    The article linked regarding the Mayor’s announcement of energy efficiency initiatives is not the most in depth of the stories on the new approach. It also suggests that the initiative is focused on homeowners. It is not. It is focused on commercial buildings.

    I would recommend the following links:

    http://www.xconomy.com/seattle/2013/06/12/seattle-trying-innovative-financing-model-for-building-efficiency/?single_page=true

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/This-May-Be-the-Most-Innovative-Energy-Efficiency-Financing-Tool-Yetkj

    More can be found here:

    http://www.en-rm.com/announcements/