- The Spokane City Council voted to add a previously-drafted sustainability action plan to city code in a recent 6-1 vote, as reported in the Spokesman-Review. Council President Ben Stuckart told the Spokesman-Review that passing the ordinance solidifies the city's commitment to sustainability and combating climate change.
- The 23-page plan will be adopted as the "framework" for the city to develop climate mitigation plans and strategies. The ordinance calls for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below the 2005 baseline level by 2030. The new framework includes four guiding principles, including prioritizing incentives and education above mandates, and eight strategies dealing with water infrastructure, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- However the final, passed version of the ordinance does not include language referencing the Paris Climate Agreement, according to the Spokesman-Review. And, Stuckart added the ordinance doesn't tie the city to the international accord — unlike some cities and states that have pledged to uphold the agreement. Spokane has also declined joining the Compact of Mayors, a group that seeks to promote city-based leadership on combating climate change.
It makes sense that Spokane is joining the green policy game, like other cities have. With the Trump administration planning to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, there's a policy gap in regard to climate change that cities can fill — and many are, by saying that they're committing to fulfilling the goals set by the Paris Agreement. There are clear benefits to investing in sustainable practices, from reduced traffic to PR boosts and economic savings.
Spokane is a standout, however. The ordinance sets a clear goal for emissions reductions, sets an intention of staying aligned with Washington State on emissions reductions and to incentivize a "green economy." But city council members specifically moved to strike language referencing the Paris Climate Agreement from the ordinance that was passed.
Ultimately, if the goals are in line with the international accord — which they are, Spokane's commitment to a 30% reduction is lower than the U.S. reduction goal under Paris — the language that Spokane uses to discuss climate action may not matter. If Spokane is actually committing to a 30% reduction, the ends will justify the means; there's no reason it truly matters how cities decide to phrase their climate plans, so long as plans exist and commit to reducing emissions.