Our City Stood Up To Big Oil.
Now, in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey, We Should Lead on Climate.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT (originally published on Medium)
8/29/17: We are still witnessing the destructive havoc of Hurricane Harvey. The colossal storm left catastrophic flooding and widespread damage in its wake, devastating communities along the Texas coast. While the President was tweeting about how he won Missouri or about how Mexico was going to pay for the wall, first responders and neighbors were joining together to rescue stranded people from rooftops and cars throughout Houston.
We in Seattle know that we all deserve a safe and healthy environment, no matter what your zip code or what size your paycheck. We know that fossil fuel corporations have used their political power to deny reality and block necessary solutions for too long. We know that climate leadership must come from cities and states, and that our actions today will make or break our future.
The climate crisis is escalating. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, we can see how lack of leadership and poor planning intensified the impacts of the storm. Over the last 25 years Houston irresponsibly permitted commercial development to cover half of the wetlands that could have soaked up storm water runoff. Many Seattleites have family in Texas who are stranded, seeking evacuation, and who need our support. Nearly 500,000 people need disaster relief and, as I write, levees are failing and nearly 30,000 people are in shelters. As we have seen across the world, too often the impacts of climate change fall first and worst on the people who did the least to cause it.
Cities like Seattle must move quickly to implement solutions to reduce carbon emissions, reduce pollution, and equitably prepare our region for the short and long-term effects of climate change. Our city stood up to Shell’s Arctic drilling rig and I know our city can be a national leader in tackling climate change and decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. We have the tools, the know-how and the willpower.
We are lucky in Seattle; the impacts of climate change will likely be milder than we see in places like New Orleans or Houston. However our region does not operate in a bubble, and as we have seen with recent wildfires in British Columbia, we have good reason to prepare for decreasing air quality, hotter summers and wetter winters. Our city must become climate resilient and be prepared to absorb stresses of climate change.
A truly equitable transition leaves no worker or community behind. Communities of color and low-income communities bear the brunt of impacts from emissions pollution and climate change. If we do not to come to grips with racial and economic inequality in our city, people will be left behind.
We must lift-up and implement the solutions our communities have already identified, such as building a targeted climate justice strategy that creates good jobs, ensures that low-income people and people of color benefit from the green economy, generates investment in clean energy, and prepares our region for the worst to come.
Our region is experiencing enormous population growth, with impacts harming low-income communities and communities of color. Working people are being pushed out of neighborhoods to chase affordable housing in places that are not served by transit, leaving people isolated from their communities and services. A lack of transit options forces workers to drive, which compounds congestion on our streets and increases the amount of polluting greenhouse gases in our air.
For more than 20 years I’ve worked with City of Seattle departments, committees, and with coalitions and civic groups, to address these challenges. As Mayor, my plan to address our affordable housing crisis will keep more people in their neighborhoods — close to their jobs and communities — and less dependent on cars (45% of our states carbon emissions come from transportation). We will lead a community-wide effort to chart the course for a fair and rapid transition to 100% clean energy for 100% of the community.
As Mayor, I will:
Collaborate with the Alliance for Jobs & Clean Energy and Front & Centered to build a targeted climate justice strategy so communities of color and low-income communities not only have a seat at the table, but see tangible benefits from our investments in a safe and healthy climate.
Make sure that we reduce the carbon emissions that lead to climate change while ensuring that everyone benefits as we prepare our region for climate hazards. As more people get pushed out of Seattle, we must take a regional approach to climate mitigation and adaptation with local cities, counties and the state.
Shift to a clean energy economy by investing in the infrastructure to make this a reality, working with industry to establish Seattle as a center for production of green technology and attracting new green jobs that provide living wages and benefits.
Continue to pursue divesting city funds from fossil fuel corporations.
Focus on guiding compact growth and expanding transit service and walking and biking infrastructure so we are all less dependent on driving.
Lead the nation as an innovator in green building methods and set up performance standards to trigger retrofitting commercial buildings for energy efficiency.
Implement assertive solutions to expand local district energy systems and incentivize new green infrastructure and on-site renewable energy production that will help us create a path to 100% clean energy.
Invest in energy retrofits that improve the comfort and affordability of our homes — especially in low-income communities.
Climate change is a defining problem for our children and our future grandchildren. The choices we make, the policies we write and the solutions we implement will determine how prepared our city will be for the myriad impacts of climate change on the next generation.
My opponent chose to join, and is paid by, the corporate law firm that defends Shell Oil from responsibility for its impacts on the environment, our world’s climate, and human rights abuses, even going as far as suing conservation groups. Seattle does not need another mayor who is focused on navigating special interest politics as usual. Our City has a moral responsibility to future generations to build the infrastructure we all will need as our planet changes.
With our environmental values and skill at innovation, Seattle should be leading the nation as a climate champion. As Mayor, I will fight for the structural changes we know are possible to combat climate change.