Kent remains silent on climate change, fighting pollution

Al Gore recently led a three-day training in Bellevue, giving his signature climate change presentation to an energetic crowd of roughly 800 students, concerned citizens and longtime activists from Washington state and across the globe. Former Vice President Gore explained the science behind climate change, its far-reaching impacts, as well as its solutions.

In a nutshell, human activity – mostly the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas – is adding vast amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and in turn is causing global temperatures to rise. This change in our environment impacts everything from the weather patterns, to our food systems, to the spread of disease, to mass migration.

We must work urgently to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but we do have technologies in the form of wind, solar and hydro power to help us adapt and transition away from fossil fuels.

Seattle is on track to reduce its carbon emissions. The city gets more than 90 percent of its power from renewables. The rest of King County, however, is lagging. Puget Sound Energy, which serves over one million customers in the Puget Sound region, still gets more than 30 percent of its power from coal.

At the Climate Reality Project training, a group of attendees heard from a panel of local government officials that consisted of Bellevue Mayor John Stokes, Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett, Issaquah Mayor Fred Butler, King County Executive Dow Constantine and state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon. I was encouraged to hear how supportive these officials were to climate activism and that these leaders are actively working to implement solutions.

The King County-Cities Climate Collaboration (K4C) is an effort and commitment by 13 King County cities – including Bellevue, Mercer Island and Issaquah – to work together to directly respond to climate change and reduce global and local sources of climate pollution.

In addition to K4C, Washington State has 10 #ClimateMayors who have committed to adopt, honor and uphold Paris Climate Agreement goals in the absence of U.S. leadership.

Having grown up in Kent and having briefly met the friendly Mayor Suzette Cooke at an event held at Kentwood High School, I was surprised to learn that she was not on the list of Climate Mayors and has not joined the K4C.

Kent, the sixth largest city in the state, has a diverse population and very strong manufacturing skills. I do not doubt that Kent has the ability to help King County transition to a fossil-free economy faster – the question is whether leaders in Kent have the political will and foresight to take on climate change.

– Hoa Pantastico

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