Kirsten Gibson is an intern for ThinkProgress. Credit: Shutter StockThe Seattle City Council unanimously passed a far-reaching Climate Action Plan Monday, with the ultimate goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2050. The ambitious plan, crafted by city officials and community members, provides a long-term vision for reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions while building vibrant, prosperous communities. Specifically, the plan focuses on three areas where Seattle can benefit the most from improvements: transportation and land use, building energy and solid waste. “We can do something meaningful, not just for the planet, but also to create the city we want to live in, one that is safer to walk and bike and has cleaner air and water,” said city councilman Mike O’Brien. The plan includes improving and expanding the city’s bus system, building the infrastructure to make it safer to walk or bike around, and building out the region’s light-rail system. These moves would help reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent, according to the Seattle Times. To curb building energy costs, the plan details the continuation of projects to weatherize homes and to develop a way to rate home energy performance when a house is listed for sale. Ways to conserve of electricity and water were identified as areas to improve upon and preparing for the possible impacts of climate change on at-risk populations, such as the poor. The plan also includes strategies to prepare for adverse climate effects that the city could be subject to, such as identifying flood prone areas and creating land use plans that would adapt for rising sea levels. In addition to the city council’s climate plan, Mayor Mike McGinn announced an energy efficiency initiative that will cut emissions and could save homeowners 35 to 50 percent in energy costs. Many cities have prioritized plans for climate change in the wake of unprecedented extreme weather and rising average temperatures. On Monday, 45 mayors from cities across the country pledged to take action to prepare and protect their communities from the increasing disasters and disruptions fueled by climate change. And in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, released an extensive climate resiliency plan last week. PlaNYC includes 250 recommendations to address the reality of climate change and prepare for its impacts.
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