Council affirms commitment to Paris climate change agreement

In response to President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, today the City Council passed a resolution affirming the city’s commitment to continue to live up to its requirements.

The resolution, sponsored by Council member Mike O’Brien, does several things:

  • It reaffirms its goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050.
  • It requests the Office of Sustainability and Environment OSE) to “identify the key climate actions necessary to meet or exceed the goals ratified by the Paris Agreement.”
  • It also asks OSE to report back to the Council by September 30th on work the city should be doing with “concerned communities, companies, local and state governments, and coalitions” to fulfill the US’s Paris Agreement commitments.
  • It voices support for a carbon tax and using the proceeds to “help make alternatives to fossil fuel more accessible and affordable.”
  • It urges the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS) to re-evaluate its position on investing the retirement fund in fossil fuel companies and to increase its investment in green energy. This section saw an 11th hour rewrite this morning from an earlier version that urged divestment; Council member Burgess, who sits on the SCERS board, noted that the board has already ordered a review on the issue and he didn’t want to preempt that process with a resolution from the Council.
  • It requests SDCI and OSE to investigate regulations that would prohibit new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Seattle. Defining “fossil fuel infrastructure” will be tricky given the city’s heavy reliance still on gasoline, natural gas, heating oil in older buildings, and even jet fuel at Boeing Field — and given that the city is growing at a rapid pace.
  • It calls on Puget Sound Energy to retire the Colstrip coal plant in Montana by 2025 and replace it with 100% renewable energy.
  • It calls on all state agencies to:

exercise their authority to halt and reject all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects within Washington State, such as the Manufacturing and Marine Export Facility in Kalama, Washington, the Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal in Vancouver, Washington, the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion project in British Columbia, Canada, and expansion of the five Puget Sound fossil fuel refineries.

The resolution passed by an 8-0 vote (Council member Gonzalez was absent today).