Climate Action Update from Mayor Durkan

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Mayor Durkan Headshot

Dear Friends,

Like you, I believe that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face and the solutions to climate change must also be solutions that address income inequality and racial inequity.

Governor Inslee put it well when he said, “our house is on fire.”

Because of the tireless work of advocates and community leaders like you, Seattle has been a leader in fighting climate change and addressing environmental inequities. In Seattle, we have been moving ahead on our Climate Action Plan. We are implementing legislation to create more green buildings, ensuring fair treatment of workers, providing free transit to young people and our low-income neighbors, electrifying our City vehicle fleet, expanding access to transit, creating a city with fewer cars and more safe routes for walking, biking, and rolling, working toward equitable implementation of congestion pricing, and advancing community-based plans like the Duwamish Valley Action Plan.

Last month, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Seattle third in the nation on their 2019 Clean Energy Scorecard, specifically highlighting Seattle’s commitment to an equity-driven approach to clean energy planning and offering energy efficiency programs targeting low-income and multi-family customers.

I’m proud of Seattle’s record in fighting climate change – and I am committed to advancing solutions centered on racial justice that will accelerate our transition to a clean energy community.

We cannot and will not wait on the other Washington or other governments to act.

We must do more. That’s why last week, I transmitted legislation to the City Council that will speed up the conversion of Seattle’s oil heated homes to cleaner, more efficient electric heating. This policy is expected to reduce Seattle’s climate emissions by over 400,000 metric tons over 10 years and includes provisions to provide rebates and grants to nearly 3,000 of our low- and middle-income neighbors as they make the transition. It’s another important step to help Seattle become carbon neutral.

As the other Washington debates it, another step we must take is to continue to assemble the major components of the Green New Deal. As you may know, yesterday the City Council passed a resolution affirming a commitment to the Green New Deal.

I applaud this important step, and I am grateful for the continued advocacy and vision of our community members for a Green New Deal for Seattle.

Building on this resolution, I will issue an Executive Order to the City’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental directing them to work with and learn from community members and evaluate how we can best accelerate our Climate Action Plan and meet the goals of the Green New Deal for Seattle. Building on many of the ongoing initiatives, we need to prioritize key steps and develop a plan for implementing these steps while identifying any major funding gaps. All our City departments must work together towards achieving the goals of the Green New Deal for Seattle.

As a City, we will continue to invest in more housing near transit, electrify buses and other shared mobility, and increase access to safe pedestrian and bike infrastructure. Seattle has prioritized and will continue to be a national leader in fighting climate change, but also working to ensure true opportunity for communities that have disproportionately shouldered the weight of environmental injustice, like South Park, Beacon Hill, and Rainier Valley. The communities hit the hardest by climate change are most often our historically under-served communities of color, and as we develop and implement new policies, we must continue to evaluate the race and social justice impacts.