Breean Beggs, Spokane City Council President, 509.625.6255
Friday, May 29, 2020 at 5 p.m.
As an elected official I’m privileged to participate in conversations with other leaders throughout the country and learn what they are doing to confront the biggest issues of our day. Right now, much of that conversation is focused on battling COVID-19 and how to move forward in opening up our economies again safely.
But there’s also an ongoing important discussion happening around climate change. Cities across the country are preparing to effectively respond to significant local impacts that come with a warming planet. Here in Washington those impacts include changes in precipitation that affect agriculture and hydroelectric generation, increased wildfires, diminished fish and wildlife habitat, and wild swings in weather that can bring floods, ice and windstorms.
There are also significant public health impacts with increased air pollution and warming temperatures. As with COVID-19, those living in poverty will experience the most severe consequences.
To help us formalize Spokane’s ongoing commitment to climate planning and sustainability, I’m pleased to announce that the City Council has voted to join two organizations; the Global Covenant of Mayors, (GCOM) and Local Governments for Sustainability, (ICLEI-USA). Membership in these organizations gives us the relationships and tools we need to ensure a sustainable and economically viable future. Both were recommended to the City and Council by the Sustainable Action Subcommittee, which was formed in 2019 by the Council to update the City’s Sustainability Action Plan.
Joining GCOM is free and will provide Spokane with a much needed framework for on-going strategic planning. It will connect Spokane with a network of local governments who are engaged in similar work. In being a signatory, Spokane will join other cities committed to climate action including Seattle, San Diego, Flagstaff, Reno, Salt Lake City and Bellingham.
The second member organization, ICLEI-USA, will give Spokane critical tools to measure our efforts to reduce global greenhouse emissions—the main driver of climate change. We will also receive tools for scenario planning and reporting that will help us meet the requirements laid out in our municipal code to meet sustainability goals. Many neighboring cities or counties are already members, including King County, Auburn, Bellingham, Boise, Bozeman, Missoula, Tacoma and Snoqualmie.
The Council’s vote to become members of these organizations establishes Spokane as part of a scientifically driven knowledge exchange. My colleagues and myself will be better connected and better informed to make decisions using best practices on behalf of Spokane residents.
Unlike COVID-19 which entered our lives with little warning, we understand the threats associated with climate change and can prepare. When it comes to ensuring a secure and resilient future for Spokane, I am all in.