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County Council adopts climate change plan that incorporates goals of Countywide Strategic Plan

Summary

Identifying specific objectives, strategies, and priority actions for reducing climate emissions and mitigating climate impacts

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council gave its unanimous approval today to legislation adopting a strategic approach in addressing climate change in King County. The ordinance calls for the County Executive to create a Strategic Climate Action Plan that is consistent with the King County Strategic Plan, the organizing framework for the County’s operations and measurement of its performance.

“The climate crisis is an urgent environmental, economic, and public health issue that King County must continue to address,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee and prime sponsor of the ordinance. “Creating the Strategic Climate Action Plan will allow us to strategically target our resources where they will be most effective.”

“Setting goals and measuring our progress towards addressing climate change are important parts of being better stewards of the environment,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, co-sponsor of the ordinance. “Today’s action makes sure King County will continue to prioritize efforts to protect our environment, which is critical to our economy, health, and quality of life.”

When the Council adopted the countywide strategic plan in 2010, one of its goals was environmental sustainability—reducing climate pollution and preparing for the effects of climate change on the environment, human health and the economy.

The County has many policies and programs that help reduce emissions and address the impact of climate change. The purpose of the ordinance is to identify those programs, measure their effectiveness in meeting their specific goals, and provide information on whether those programs are helping the County achieve its goals.

“We have made a commitment to ensure that the impacts of climate change are not only considered on the environment, but also on the people of King County,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “Making sure the County’s Climate Change Plan is consistent with the County Strategic Plan is a logical step in that direction.”

“This is a mutually beneficial objective – for taxpayers and the environment,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “By reducing emissions and energy costs, King County can save money. I look forward to seeing the proposed plan.”

An example of this would be if "levee repair" is identified as a goal of the program, measures could be set that count the number of levees repaired in areas identified as high risk for climate change-related flooding; and targets would be identified stating how many levees King County is planning on repairing.

The ordinance calls for the County Executive to present a Strategic Climate Action Plan to the Council by June 29, 2012. The focus of the current plan would be focused on county operations and areas of direct influence. The legislation calls for the Action Plan to be updated in 2015 and would expand to include ways the county can influence community-level emissions and mitigating impacts.

“The strategic plan we develop will chart our long-term path to cut pollution and prepare for the impacts of climate change,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who looked forward to Council action on his companion motion committing the County to urgent near-term actions on climate change.


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