The city of Spokane, Washington obtained a grant from the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) to fund the creation of its sustainability action plan and joint peak oil-climate change task force. The grant application details the plan and deliverables of the project, as well as providing a snapshot of the political environment of Spokane at the time.
Excerpted from the application, which is available for download here:
4.5 Local or Regional Need: (0 – 15 points): What is the direct community benefit of this proposal and what needs or problems will it address?
Local governments have strong financial reasons to address peak oil and climate change since related strategies will reduce government’s operational costs as well as strengthen and diversify the local economic engine that generates the revenues that fund government services. In addition, local governments are responsible for delivering local public services and planning for future land use and transportation, and the uncertainties surrounding the potential impacts of peak oil and climate change present a variety of risks and vulnerabilities that could jeopardize the community’s ability to function successfully into the future.
It’s important for municipalities to stay competitive with other communities competing for businesses and households. The cities that manage the challenges of peak oil and climate change successfully will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t. Market forces are not likely to react in time, because by the time the imbalance between supply and demand has raised prices sufficiently to motivate the private sector to act, it may be too late. Local government is uniquely suited to be responsive to local concerns and take the longer views necessary to anticipate and prepare for the negative impacts of peak oil prices and availability. According to many experts, the risks of not addressing these vulnerabilities are economically and socially so great that it is in the best interest of the public’s health, safety and welfare for the public sector to intervene now.
Community benefits will be measured with benchmarks and indicators related to the impacts of various City operations, services, policies and programs. Trends will be tracked for things such as:
- 1.Air quality, including green house gas emissions
- 2.high performance green building standards
- 3.options for and use of “green” incentives
- 4.jobs related to clean energy and sustainable business practices
- 5.energy efficiency and use of “green” energy alternatives
- 6.Water quality and quantity
- 7.Alternative transportation
- 8.Urban forest cover
- 9.Smart growth
- 10.Waste reduction
- 11.Regional collaboration, and
- 12.Public engagement
Information will be reported to the community at regular intervals using the GASB (Governmental Accounting Standards Board) recommended guidelines for clear and effective communication to the public regarding government performance.
4.6 Demonstration Potential: (0-20 points): Is this a project that would provide an example that can easily be used by other local governments?
Yes. Mainstream media is increasingly reporting on the projected impacts of climate change, and to some extent, peak oil. A few large cities such as San Francisco, Portland and Seattle have Offices of Sustainable Development that provide examples of coordinated programs that address these issues. However, the City of Spokane is typical of mid-sized city governments with limited resources who may have adopted and begun to implement sustainability strategies in a disjointed manner at the department or program level without weaving them together into an overarching strategy or action plan.
This project will develop a comprehensive approach to creating a sustainability strategic action plan that can be replicated by other smaller cities that lack the resources to reinvent the wheel on their own. Steps and methodology, research and resources will be compiled in a format that can be easily distributed to other cities and adapted to each locality’s unique circumstances. Also, our section on measurable outcomes will identify key performance indicators, as well as data sources and data collection methods that other cities can then incorporate into their process for monitoring and evaluation.
In addition, the City of Spokane plans to use a brand new resource for helping local governments deal with the challenges of peak oil and adapt to the effects of climate change. On September 28, 2007, the Post Carbon Institute will release their guidebook on peak oil and global warming for local governments, titled Post Carbon Cities: Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty. While there are many resources already to help improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this guidebook will fill a gap in the resources available now to local governments who are trying to anticipate and adapt to the challenges of energy and climate uncertainty. Since this is a very new resource, its methodology has not yet been tested in Washington State. The City of Spokane’s experience with this guidebook and its participation in the Post Carbon Institute’s Post Carbon Cities program will provide lessons learned for other cities, particularly those in Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Western Montana that face similar climate and resource issues.
In particular, this project will set the bar for sustainability planning among other jurisdictions in our region, encouraging them to follow suit and collaborating with them on issues of regional importance.