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MRSC Tackles Big Challenges Through Its Local Climate Response Project

MRSC Tackles Big Challenges Through Its Local Climate Response Project

This summer, MRSC is launching the Local Climate Response Project to equip Washington local governments with the tools and resources needed to protect the health and economic vitality of our communities.

It is fitting that we’re moving forward with this effort just as record-setting heat in Washington is impacting human health and threatening high-value crops and aquaculture. The extreme heat and wildfire events that we now come to expect each summer underscore the urgency of the work ahead.

Fortunately, Washington’s cities and counties have been amongst the nation’s leaders in defining the role that local governments play in the worldwide effort to reduce the impacts of climate change. Local governments are working on several fronts to:

  • Dramatically reduce carbon emissions to protect a stable planet where humans can continue to flourish;
  • Build safe, resilient infrastructure that stands up to the more extreme climate forces we are already starting to experience; and
  • Prioritize and invest in the frontline communities that are hardest hit by climate impacts.

Finding Local Solutions

The Local Climate Response Project will help all local governments in Washington to accelerate their progress in addressing climate impacts.

This initiative will produce training sessions, web resources, and timely blog posts that feature practical solutions and tools tailored to local governments. It will also help local leaders better understand the most important steps to take to protect communities from harmful climate-related impacts, and we will use our website to showcase promising strategies initiated by local governments throughout Washington.

We will need your help as we kick-off this project. Within the next few weeks, we will be sending out a survey to local leaders to gain a better understanding of the resources MRSC could offer to assist your jurisdiction in implementing effective response strategies. This survey will build on one the Department of Commerce (Commerce) sent to local planners this past spring, gathering information on local efforts to respond to climate impacts.

One of the outcomes of this initial survey will be an interactive map of climate-related plans that cities, counties, and special purpose districts in Washington have adopted.

What You Can Expect

We will be working with several partners to provide expert training and to highlight climate action tools that are available to local governments. For example, the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) has recently produced a Climate Resilience Handbook that provides a succinct overview of the climate impacts and risks to Washington cities and examples of best practices, including links to local city and county climate action plans. We will also work closely with Commerce, which is the state agency tasked with providing climate-related resources across the state.

Our partners will also include organizations that have significant expertise on strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Shift Zero is a statewide alliance dedicated to ensuring that Washington State is on a path to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions caused by buildings. They’ve produced a Zero Carbon Buildings Policy Toolkit to help local governments craft and implement incentives and policies that speed the transition to highly energy-efficient buildings that are fossil-fuel free and use carbon-free renewable energy to meet building operation energy needs.

Amongst our partners will also be leaders who are behind a growing recognition that climate progress is integrally tied to transforming the poor health and economic outcomes of our most vulnerable, frontline communities. The Community Report on Environmental Justice from the Seattle-based nonprofit Front and Centered is one example of work that demonstrates that the pathway to a resilient future for all communities lies in eliminating toxic air and water pollution, promoting clean energy and access to clean jobs, protecting salmon and related ecosystems central to tribal cultures, and expanding the availability of affordable housing.

Local governments across Washington are taking action locally to address climate change. MRSC’s Local Climate Response Project will help provide the tools and resources to ensure that our state’s communities remain healthy and thriving for generations to come.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

Photo of Tracy Burrows

About Tracy Burrows

As MRSC’s Executive Director, Tracy seeks out innovations in local government, tracking trends in management and technology that impact your work. She has over 20 years of local government and non-profit experience, specializing in growth management, transportation, and general city management issues.