Recap: Seattle’s recent moves on building electrification in a Green New Deal

Electric Avenue

By Kelsey Hamlin, Volunteer Outreach & Development Coordinator

Two weeks ago, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released an Executive Order (EO) outlining the city’s next steps in implementing a Seattle Green New Deal (SGND). You can find our response to the news in our Jan. 8 press release.

Of particular interest: Mayor Durkan committed all new city buildings and retrofits of city buildings to using fossil-free energy. We know fracked gas is a huge remaining hurdle in our climate challenge, so this move was a needed first step that Sierra Club is excited to support. Mayor Durkan released the EO before the labor impact study concluded, which will inform the best path toward both 100% clean energy in Seattle and a just transition for workers’ livelihoods. 

This is the Mayor’s first action under the Green New Deal resolution City Council passed last year, which created the SGND oversight board. The Mayor’s EO commits Seattle to the following principles:

  • Pollution should be reduced at the rate deemed necessary by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • The GND should promote  economic opportunity and access to stable, well-paying jobs 
  • The benefits and investments of a clean energy transition must go to communities historically disproportionately burdened by the fossil fuel industries
  • Emission trends should be analyzed to inform investments

The city will also commit to an interdepartmental process, identifying opportunities for climate action. Each June, a new Green New Deal “City Team” will convene to identify top potential greenhouse gas reduction actions. We’re hopeful this will include action to power buildings with clean electricity, and transform our transportation system by investing in transit, making it safer to walk and bike, building out infrastructure needed to power electric vehicles, and disincentivizing unnecessary car trips.

Sierra Club also believes it’s important to continue centering workers and communities of color in climate policy. Organizers Maria Suchoski and Zoe Schurman (from Fridays for Future) and Parisa Harvey (from Washington Climate Strike and the Seattle Youth Commission) said, “We won’t stand with [the mayor] until we see bold climate action.” Got Green also expressed disappointment that labor and frontline communities weren’t consulted for this EO despite their foundings of and significant contributions to SGND. We echo our partners’ call for bold climate action and a truly inclusive process that puts impacted communities at the center of the discussion. 

If you’re interested in getting involved with in advocating for the Seattle Green New Deal and bold climate action in Seattle, please contact our Seattle Group Chair


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