The quality of the environment we live in is a critical part of what people often describe as the “character” of Edmonds. Even if it is not something we overtly think about, it is an intrinsic part of our everyday experience, whether at work, at rest or at play. Until relatively recently, environmental quality has often been thought of in terms of obvious, easily observable characteristics – such as the visible landscape, the quality of the air, the presence and variety of wildlife, or the availability and character of water in its various forms. However, recent evidence on climate change points to the potential fragility of our assumptions about the environment and the need to integrate and heighten the awareness of environmental issues as they are inter-related with all community policies and activities.
Recognizing the importance of addressing the issues surrounding the environment and climate change, in September 2006, the City of Edmonds formally expressed support for the Kyoto Protocol and adopted the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement by Resolution No. 1129, and joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) by Resolution No. 1130.
Scientific evidence and consensus continues to strengthen the idea that climate change is an urgent threat to the environmental and economic health of our communities. Many cities, in this country and abroad, already have strong local policies and programs in place to reduce global warming pollution, but more action is needed at the local, state, and federal levels to meet the challenge.
The State of Washington has also been taking steps to address the issues surrounding climate change. For example, in March, 2008, the state legislature passed ESSHB 2815, which included monitoring and reporting mandates for state agencies along with the following emission reduction targets:
Sec. 3. (1)(a) The state shall limit emissions of greenhouse gases to achieve the following emission reductions for Washington state:
(i) By 2020, reduce overall emissions of greenhouse gases in the state to 1990 levels;
(ii) By 2035, reduce overall emissions of greenhouse gases in the state to twenty five percent below 1990 levels;
(iii) By 2050, the state will do its part to reach global climate stabilization levels by reducing overall emissions to fifty percent below 1990 levels, or seventy percent below the state's expected emissions that year.
The City of Edmonds has formally approved the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement which was endorsed by the 73rd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, Chicago, 2005. Under the Agreement, participating cities committed to take three sets of actions:
1. Urge the federal government and state governments to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the target of reducing global warming pollution levels to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, including efforts to: reduce the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate the development of clean, economical energy resources and fuel-efficient technologies such as conservation, methane recovery for energy generation, waste to energy, wind and solar energy, fuel cells, efficient motor vehicles, and biofuels.
2. Urge the U.S. Congress to pass bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation that 1) includes clear timetables and emissions limits and 2) a flexible, market-based system of tradable allowances among emitting industries
3. Strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing global warming pollution by taking actions in our own operations and community.
Given this background, the City of Edmonds recognizes that global climate change brings significant risks to our community as a shoreline city. At the same time, the City understands that we have a responsibility to play a leadership role both within our own community as well as the larger Puget Sound region.