Tualatin takes on climate with new city plan

Isabella Kneeshaw, Fold Editor/Graphics Editor

Climate change continues to be a looming burden for our planet, one that often feels like it’s falling on the shoulders of a younger generation, when in fact most of the major causes of environmental damage are rooted in years of carbon emissions from large companies and unsustainable practices that were formulated before many of us were born. 

To begin to tackle this issue, the City of Tualatin hopes to bring together all members of the community in order to identify problems and create real solutions in our city through the introduction of their new Climate Action Plan (CAP). 

Maddie Cheek is a Management Analyst in the city’s Public Works Department and has been co-leading the formulation of this plan. The Wolf  had a chance to interview Cheek as she outlined the main goals of the CAP.

“The main goal of the Climate Action Plan is to provide a roadmap for the city to take meaningful action to both adapt to the changes in climate that we’re already experiencing (like heat waves, wildfire and smoke events, etc.) and to reduce the city’s collective carbon footprint to net zero by 2050, in alignment with the goals set out by the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. I see it as a decision-making tool that can help leaders and community members prioritize how they spend time and resources in a world full of often-competing interests,” Cheek said. “Another goal of the plan is to prioritize communities of color, people with low incomes and others who have historically been left out of public planning and who are often the first and worst impacted by climate change to ensure that the plan is equitable and meets the needs of all community members.”

Cheek and her team have been heavily focused on community engagement and ensuring that the loudest voice is coming from the public. In order to establish this, there have been and will continue to be opportunities to give feedback about the CAP in person and directly through their website. 

As far as the future goes, the CAP is set to be fully adopted in summer 2023, which means right now is the most important time to give your input. 

“Once the community-wide climate action plan is adopted next year, we will begin implementation of that plan and pursue an operational climate action plan focused specifically on city operations (e.g. city buildings, fleet vehicles, etc.). A sustainability plan to address sustainability issues more generally (e.g. sustainable purchasing) will follow the operational climate action plan,” Cheek explained. 

The city’s work on this is something that will take time and diligence, but will ultimately be a great benefit, not only to the community, but to the world as a whole as we try to make sustainable choices to safeguard our natural land. 

 “Climate change can feel incredibly overwhelming and even confusing. I often hear from folks that they’re worried about climate change, but they don’t know what to do or how to help. This plan helps us understand where and how we’re likely to experience climate impacts right here in Tualatin, and how we can help community members manage those impacts to stay safe and comfortable,” Cheek concluded.