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First ever carbon free town hall held in Seattle

Summary

Innovative discussion on climate featured business, religious, and government leaders from King County and Governor’s office

Story

This evening, the Metropolitan King County Council and Bullitt Foundation played host to the first ever “Carbon Free Town Hall.” Held at the Bullitt Center, the green crown jewel of King County. It was a special meeting of the Council’s Committee of the Whole and featured a broad panel of speakers including representatives from the Catholic Church, government, military, and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

In the spirit of being carbon friendly, King County Metro’s newest Electric trackless trolley bus provided the Council, staff, and media with an emission-free ride to the event from downtown to Capitol Hill. Other attendees also travelled to the world’s greenest commercial building via carbon friendly transportation and other members of the public participated from their homes virtually via Livestream and Twitter.

“Our Town Halls focus on bringing government closer to the people to discuss key issues affecting all of and holding it at a time and location that is near where people live and work,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague, Committee of the Whole Chair. “It is important to have a Town Hall format that focuses on living in King County, learning about issues and then leading as a result.”

King County is an active participant in working to combat the effects of global warming through the County’s Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP), which seeks to employ climate solutions that achieve social, economic, and environmental benefits for all county residents.

“Around the globe, and here in King County, we are increasingly coming face to face with the devastating impacts of climate change,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “Just this summer, we witnessed rampant forest fires, water shortages, and the death of salmon due to dramatically increasing water temperatures. Tonight we heard from key public and private sector leaders including representatives from the faith community, the Navy and business to help us better understand the intersections of climate change, the urgency for action, and how we can work together.”

The meeting was moderated by the president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, Denis Hayes, one of the founders of Earth Day.

“King County has some of the best climate policies I’ve seen,” Hayes said. “If implemented, it will move the county in a positive direction.” Some of the key SCAP elements include reducing countywide carbon pollution by 80 percent by 2050 and preparing the region for the impacts of climate change by strengthening community resiliency.

In addition to Hayes and members of the King County Council, attendees heard from Patty Bowman, director of outreach and advocacy at St. James Cathedral; Maud Daudon, president & CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; and Capt. Leo Goff, Ph.D., a member of the Center for Naval Analysis Military Advisory Board on the importance of business, faith and military communities actively leading climate change discussions toward actionable solutions. Goff, spoke about the threat of climate change as national security issue, while Bowman, in the wake of Pope Francis visit to the U.S. last week said the Pontiff stressed that making the effort to reduce the impact of global warming was more than “just changing a light bulb, we need to change our hearts as well.

Daudon, a member of the Bullitt Center Board, told the audience the Seattle Chamber has split with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over climate change and has signed the Washington Climate Declaration. “Most businesses see the energy reality today, and what the future looks like,” said Daudon. “We need to build that bridge from the reality to the future.”

Chris Davis, energy advisor to Governor Jay Inslee and Matt Kuharic, climate change program coordinator for King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks also spoke about steps the state and the county are taking to aggressively address climate change. Aiko Schaefer of Communities of Color for Climate Justice discussed how climate change is disproportionately impacting those without the ability or resources to combat it.

“Developing the alternatives to climate change is an equity issue,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “Aiko Schaefer reminded all of us there will be underserved communities and populations of color that will bear the brunt of the impacts of global warming if developed nations do not get involved in helping them.”

The Carbon Free Town Hall is the third in a series of evening events the King County Council is holding in communities throughout the county. For more information visit: http://www.kingcounty.gov/townhall.
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