With the city of Mercer Island’s first-ever Climate Action Plan (CAP) in the works, it has launched an online community survey regarding the continued development of the plan. Residents provided initial feedback at the community kickoff meeting in December of 2021 and the city expects to send the final plan to city council for adoption in December of 2022.
“This is the beginning of a multi-month process and we have a lot of work to do, but it’s great to get this started now,” Ross Freeman, the city’s sustainability program analyst, said at the meeting of the CAP, which is aimed at helping fight climate change locally.
The three-minute survey is available on the city’s Let’s Talk public engagement site at https://letstalk.mercergov.org/climate-action-plan?preview=true&tool=survey_tool#tool_tab.
According to the city’s Let’s Talk page, the CAP’s vision is to “guide the government, business, and resident actions needed to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect our environment.”
At the meeting, Freeman revealed a current CAP vision draft, which will be refined in the coming months to include feedback from attendees. It reads, in part: “Through active public engagement, the community will reduce energy use and waste, improve air quality, preserve our local landscapes, decrease risk to people and property, and secure an equitable quality of life for all.”
Freeman said that GHG emissions from human society are leading to the warming of the planet. Some of those GHGs are carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor, and according to the Let’s Talk page, driving cars, flying planes and burning fossil fuels — such as coal and oil — release excess GHGs into the earth’s atmosphere.
He added that over the last several decades — and backed by an abundance of science — there has been “an increase in average global temperatures from greenhouse gas emissions from human activities and that is trapping some temperature and additional heat inside the earth’s atmosphere. What this leads to is some changes in the way that the climate operates and that triggers extreme heat and major storms, two of the most powerful drivers.”
The city’s CAP will focus on: mobility/transporation/land use; buildings and energy; materials, waste/recycling, consumption; natural resources/trees/water; and community resilience/adaptation. Some of the city’s priorities are to reduce emissions, be cost effective and be feasible.
Former mayor Benson Wong, who has been advocating for the CAP for several years, noted at the meeting that the city council marked $125,000 in the 2021-2022 biennial budget for professional consulting services related to the CAP.
“It’s a big day for the city and for all of us who have been working towards the city’s adoption of its own Climate Action Plan. And while adoption is still a ways off, the process has formally begun,” said Wong, who thanked Freeman for his dedication and commitment to the CAP.
Wong also brought Island residents and volunteers into the spotlight during his introduction to the meeting: “Your perseverance, your tireless advocacy to tackle climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect our environment and improve the quality of life for the future have been instrumental in getting us to this point.”
For more information on the CAP, visit https://letstalk.mercergov.org/climate-action-plan.