Climate plan in development could guide Everett policies
EVERETT — For more than a decade, in three minute intervals during citizen’s comments, Jackie Minchew nudged at the City Council to put climate change at the forefront.
Last week, council members unanimously directed the city’s volunteer Planning Commission, an advisory body, to begin drafting the city’s Climate Action Plan.
It is designed to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and put Everett on course for reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
A formal plan is the next step from a 2015 “Climate Change and Sustainability” element adopted as part of the city’s Growth Management Comprehensive Plan. The update established goals and 48 policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as create an environmentally sustainable community.
In preparing the plan, the council directed the Planning Commission to seek public input, as well as opportunities to inform residents about the science of climate change, and actions they can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Everett has already taken many steps to reduce carbon emissions, said council member Paul Roberts, such as buying hybrid and electric buses and vehicles. But it still needs to do more, he said.
Last summer, when smoke from Canadian forest fires hung over the region for several days, “our air quality was worse than Beijing,” Roberts said. “We need to take these matters very seriously.”
The Climate Action Plan will incorporate a combination of mitigation, adaptation, and economic impact — “Eco-Nomics” — to parry environmental forces.
Mitigation focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation includes preparation for climatic events such as storms and flooding. Eco-Nomics refers to preparing for the economic impacts associated with global warming and climate change.
Further, the Council directed the Climate Action Plan to set targets for reducing greenhouse gases.
An analysis of 2014 data by private consultant Carbon Solutions determined that there were 672,000 annual metric tons of carbon emissions in the city. It proposed slashing that number to 336,000 by 2030.
Forty percent of that reduction would come from using cleaner fuels and vehicles, 30 percent from reduced use of natural gas, and 25 percent from less vehicle miles traveled.
But the greatest impact on reducing emissions would come from land-use planning. The Climate Change and Sustainability Element of the comprehensive plan states that a “dense,
compact land use pattern,” which supports walking, bicycling, transit, and open space conservation, has “great potential” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to vehicles and buildings.
It notes that the Land Use and Transportation elements of the comprehensive plan “set the stage for this vision buy directing new development to centers and arterial corridors served by transit, promoting a multi-modal transportation system, and reducing the need to travel by car.”
Minchew was happy to see the draft report.
“I commend the City Council for advancing the Climate Change issue at Wednesday’s meeting,” Minchew said by email. “Earth Day being only a few days away, it is timely. That said, we would be well advised to bear in mind last year’s October UN warning (Report: we have just 12 years to limit devastating global warming), and perhaps remind ourselves of the Keeling Curve.“
The commission also was instructed to work in concert with other state, regional, and federal agencies, such as Everett Transit and Snohomish County PUD.
There is no specific time frame mandated to complete the plan, but Roberts said he hoped it would be finished within the next 12 months.
“Citizens should have plenty of opportunity to comment,” Roberts said. “Fast is not necessarily better, but there is an urgency to this work. We want (the planning commission) to act with deliberate speed.”
The draft Climate Action Plan that the planning commission will be working from can be read online at www.tinyurl.com/EVTClimatePlan
350 Everett is holding a climate march and rally on Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside at the Snohomish County Plaza and Amphitheater, 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett. The march begins at 10 a.m., stay afterward for speeches.
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