Tacoma, WA: In a historic day, the Puyallup Nation and the City of Tacoma have each passed their own climate emergency resolutions, both inspired by the Tacoma Youth Climate Strike on September 20th. The Puyallup are the first tribal nation in the US to declare a climate emergency, and Tacoma is the first city in Washington to do so.
Making their announcement at a special Chief Leschi School assembly, the Puyallup Tribal Council vowed to act on the 18 points of their resolution immediately. The resolution read, in part, “…the Puyallup Tribe of Indians commits to a climate emergency mobilization effort to combat global warming that will result in a just transition to a carbon neutral economy by 2050…”
Requested by Mayor Woodards and Council Members Beale and Mello, the City resolution recognized the severity of the climate crisis, accepting the latest available scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and then calls on the city to take action.
“We are going to continue to do everything in this plan and more,” said Mayor Woodards before the affirmative vote. “It doesn’t end today. As a matter of fact, today is just the beginning. I want to continue to see you here, I want you to hold our feet to the fire, I want you to hold us accountable for everything we are promising to you,” she said to the youth in the council chambers holding banners reading “This is an Emergency, Act Like It” and “Which Side Are You On?”.
The City Council, short two members, then unanimously approved the historic resolution.
“I’m overcome with emotions right now. As soon as they approved it I started crying. This has lifted so much weight off my shoulders just to know that the City Council is trying to be there for us and listen to the youth,” said Vera McLaughlin, a 19 year old art student and Sunrise organizer. “And I’m hopeful that they are going to continue to take action and act like the emergency they just declared it is.”
“It’s been super easy recently to become hopeless about the state of our climate, what will happen to us, if we’ll be able to have kids or a future. I think tonight has made me a lot more optimistic and just more empowered to see that we can affect change,” said Sowmya Kannon, a freshman at the University of Puget Sound and Sunrise activist.
“We applaud the City Council for taking both the demands of the youth climate strikers and the latest climate science seriously. Before we can act to solve a problem we must admit that there is one, and this resolution does that and starts moving us in the right direction,” said Daniel Villa, a volunteer with climate justice group 350 Tacoma.
“Of course this resolution is not a silver bullet for the climate crisis – we need unprecedented, transformational change in every aspect of society – and we look forward to working with all interested parties to stop fossil fuel expansion in Tacoma and then to replace it with green industry. It’s not what we want, it’s what climate science demands,” said Grace Hope, scientist, mother, and volunteer with 350 Tacoma.
“We hope these resolutions will inspire Governor Inslee to declare a climate emergency for the State of Washington – the Protectors of the Salish Sea have been requesting this for months and continue their encampment in Olympia waiting for him to respond,” said Bradley Thompson, a nurse and volunteer with 350 Tacoma. “Taking action on a city level is great but we really need the state to take action and, ultimately, the federal government, ideally by adopting a Green New Deal.”
On September 20th, the youth made four demands of the city and three will be met or addressed in this resolution. The demand to halt fossil fuel expansion remains for another day.
The youth demands are:
1) Declare a climate emergency in the city of Tacoma;
2) Terminate all new and current fossil fuel expansion projects;
3) Update the city’s environmental action plan to reflect the size and scope of the environmental crisis;
4) Center justice in all of the above demands – this means honoring the treaties that protect indigenous lands, ensuring a just transition off of fossil fuels to a green economy, protecting frontline communities as well as welcoming those who have been displaced by the climate disasters.
Photos from Puyallup resolution and City resolution: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1jBOSeu27oul-67seICnCLXHN3tCzRrpT
City of Tacoma resolution: https://bit.ly/2t14qyX