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Spokane Makes Climate Agreement With Itself

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Spokane is now the latest northwest city to recognize climate change as human-caused and to commit to limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

The Spokane City Council passed its Sustainability Action Plan Monday night by a vote of six to one. The plan includes a goal set in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

The new law cites "overwhelming scientific evidence [that] clearly shows that [the] planet's climate is changing…and that humans have, and are, contributing significantly...." Members of the public who spoke in opposition questioned the validity of climate science mentioned in the ordinance.

The City of Spokane set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2009. Those standards are now part of the city code. City Council President Ben Stuckart says he is working on a plan to have emissions published annually on the city’s website.

The first reading of the ordinance mentioned the Paris Climate Agreement, which was rejected by President Donald Trump earlier this year. That language was removed in the final version.

Stuckart said the new law has nothing to do with Trump’s decision or international relations.

"Donald Trump didn’t set our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The Paris agreement didn’t set those reduction goals," Stuckart said. "The 2010 Spokane City council set those goals unanimously, in 2010."

After Trump rejected the agreement many U.S. cities opted to take on the responsibilities outlined in the international agreement on their own. Other Northwest cities include Bend, Portland and Seattle.

Eric Boose graduated from a Spokane area high school this spring and testified in favor of the ordinance.

"I say to those who have fears of this being big government, this is the opposite," Boose said. "This is the demonstration of the power of small government. States and cities have the power to step up and make the change that they see necessary."

Stuckart called the city’s Sustainability Action Plan "a guidance document."

"We're not changing the world," Stuckart said. "We are just putting into law what we have been doing and what we will continue to do as a city to mitigate and adapt to climate change and run efficient city operations."

Last week the 14-state U.S. Climate Alliance launched its website. Washington and Oregon are among the states that have committed to meeting the goals of the international Paris climate change agreement. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is a co-chair.