Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What does the Paris Climate Agreement have to do with....the Bainbridge Island Comprehensive Plan?


By Lara Hansen

Bainbridge Island, WA is a long way from COP21 but climate change is not just a conversation for Paris. The agreement from the City of Light gave us the foundation for a path forward, some aspiration and some new commitment. However it does not give us the whole solution to the global climate conundrum we’ve created for ourselves. Solutions will need to be at the global level, like those we’ve started in Paris, but they will also need to be at the local level, like those people are developing in towns such as Bainbridge Island.

This fall while negotiators were preparing their positions and balancing their willingness to compromise, citizens of Bainbridge Island have been discussing the update of the city's Comprehensive Plan. Just like everywhere else that has such a plan, they are considering how to frame their collective desires around issues like transportation, housing, land use, water, utilities, the economy, and the environment. But they are doing something a little different. The community is also considering how climate change will affect their island home and how the Comprehensive Plan could be made more durable in the face of that change, so they can get better long-term outcomes despite their vulnerabilities.

Just like we don't know for certain if the Paris Agreement will be enough to get us on the right path, we'll have to watch what happens on Bainbridge Island to know if it's successful. So stay tuned...and in the meantime, get your own community working to develop climate-informed actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and plan for the effects of climate change.