By Kristin Lynett, Sustainability Officer and Beth Jarot, Resilient & Green Building Specialist
For a number of communities on the West Coast, treasured natural systems, the environment, and the health and safety of communities are threatened by climate change; Tacoma is no exception. Tacoma’s vulnerabilities include increasing temperatures, susceptibility to wildfire smoke, rising sea levels, declining snowpack, heavier rain storms, changing stream flow, and more.
Tacoma’s Office of Environmental Policy & Sustainability (OEPS) was established in 2008 to develop, promote, and implement sustainable practices through education, community partnerships, and performance management. Programming, policy, and outreach focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation is at the heart of our work. The City has set aggressive carbon pollution reduction targets and is tracking progress on priority environmental actions.
The 2016 Environmental Action Plan (EAP) charts the course for taking action at both the City and community levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the climate goals laid out in the 2008 Climate Action Plan. Progress reports are completed annually and the EAP will be updated over the next year.
In addition, a Climate Risk Assessment was conducted in 2016 to better understand Tacoma’s climate vulnerabilities and to help the city become more resilient in the face of climate changes. OEPS, in partnership with the Sustainable Tacoma Commission, conducts an inventory of the city and community greenhouse gas emissions every few years to monitor the sources of emissions and to better understand the effectiveness of the actions we are taking to reduce emissions.
In December 2019, City Council adopted Resolution No. 40509, declaring a climate emergency in Tacoma, and affirming Council’s support of initiatives that mitigate impacts. Earlier that same week, the Puyallup Tribe adopted their own Climate Emergency Resolution.
Tacoma’s efforts to address climate change will continue in 2020-2021 with a Climate Adaptation Strategy report focused on code and policy recommendations, in addition to an updated Environmental Action Plan to reflect our community’s racial justice priorities and the climate emergency we face.