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Washington State News

Spokane Ranked No. 5 in Climate-Friendly City Study

Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP Images

(The Center Square) – Spokane is ranked the fifth best place to live in the United States for low climate change risk and having an action plan to combat pollution.

The second largest city in Washington was given the climate-resilient ranking by Quicken Loans, a national mortgage lender. The company said data for the study was obtained from numerous sources related to livability, including the housing price index.

Spokane scored a climate change risk of 50 on a scale that goes to 100. An extreme risk factor of 57.7% was assigned to the city based on potential hazards, vulnerability, and exposure. The Cumulative Resilience Screening Index was 15.4 due to the city’s focus on protecting the natural environment. 

The social vulnerability index – those who would suffer most from pre-existing poverty and financial losses in a climate disaster – is 31.7 in Spokane.

Spokane, Washington, may not be the first city that comes to mind when searching for the best climate-friendly cities, but its low climate risk and low extreme index make it a top contender,” reads the Quicken report.

Sixty percent of the top 10 cities chosen by the mortgage lender as the best places to live for climate change were climate resilient were in California, with Sacramento taking first place. 

The study finds that Washington and 33 other states have developed a climate action plan or are in the process of developing one to combat extreme weather events.  

Last year, Spokane’s Sustainability Action Subcommittee released a draft climate action plan. With grant funding from the National League of Cities, the Spokane plan was developed over two years with the involvement of more than 40 community volunteers working under the guidance of Kara Odegard, manager of Sustainability Initiatives for the city council.

There were about six months of community engagement during the formulation of the plan that focused not only on the natural environment but social justice.

“Climate change is a global issue that needs local action, and cities are a necessary part of the solution,” said Odegard when the 2021 plan was introduced to update the 2009 version. “The plan does address climate, but it really aims to make the community more resilient in the face of future challenges and economic downturns.”

Toward that end, the plan sheds light on Spokane’s greatest sources of emissions, most notably fossil fuel usage, and provided actions and strategies to mitigate identified challenges.

In addition, the plan focused on increased economic opportunity and equity for residents, as well as health and general well-being.

“Low-income, Black, Indigenous, and people of color have paid the price for climate change more than any other community,” reads the plan that was officially adopted by the council last October.

Even before the plan was finalized, the city was taking steps to comply with a global focus on climate change.

In 2018, the city adopted a goal of 100% renewable electricity usage by 2030. Efforts to reach that goal included officials seeking out grant funds to install electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city and replacing gas-powered police patrol vehicles with electric models.

Last year, the council passed an ordinance requiring a 95% reduction of climate pollution and net neutral emissions by 2050, aligning local goals with those set by Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington Legislature.