Climate Program

This page contains planning guidance, grants and other resources for developing a comprehensive plan climate element that mitigates greenhouse gas emissions and builds community resilience. 

Photo of governor signing climate bill 1181 with supporters
Photo courtesy of Washington State Legislative Support Services

Climate Element Overview

Legislation passed and signed into law in 2023 (HB 1181) adds a climate goal to the Growth Management Act (GMA) and requires local comprehensive plans to have a climate element with resilience and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation sub-elements.

  • The resilience sub-element must include goals and polices to improve climate preparedness, response and recovery efforts. This is mandatory for all counties and cities fully planning under the GMA and encouraged for others.
  • The greenhouse gas emissions sub-element must include goals and policies to reduce emissions and vehicle miles traveled. This sub-element is mandatory for the state’s 11 largest counties and the cities within those counties.
  • Climate elements must maximize economic, environmental, and social co-benefits and prioritize environmental justice in order to avoid worsening environmental health disparities.
  • Climate Law: HB 1181 (2023) – FAQ (PDF)

Who Must Create a Climate Element

Climate-related changes to the Growth Management Act (GMA) that are reflected in HB 1181 (Chapter 228, Laws of 2023) include amendments to several mandatory elements with timeframes for applicability based on the periodic update schedule. Jurisdictions must update their transportation element and land use element, as well as add a climate element that is comprised of a greenhouse gas emissions reduction sub-element and a resilience sub-element.

The resilience sub-element is mandatory for all fully planning counties and cities under the GMA and is encouraged for all other counties and cities. The greenhouse gas emissions reduction sub-element is mandatory only for the following 11 counties (and their cities with a population greater that 6,000 as of April 1, 2021):

  • Benton
  • Clark
  • Franklin
  • King
  • Kitsap
  • Pierce
  • Skagit
  • Snohomish
  • Spokane
  • Thurston
  • Whatcom

Commerce provides a collection of training and guidance on the GMA. The following Commerce resources are available online: Periodic Updates, GMA regulations, and an overview of Washington local land use planning.

Climate Planning Rulemaking

As required by HB 1181(2023), Commerce will be updating the Washington Administrative Code. Our rulemaking is expected to provide guidance that cities and counties can use when developing comprehensive plan updates and describe new regulatory authority by which Commerce will review and approve city and county climate elements voluntarily submitted as part of comprehensive plan updates. Please see the following link to our rulemaking page to review the CR-101 notice

Commerce will be seeking input starting in early 2024. Please subscribe by scrolling to our “subscribe” button on this page and selecting “planning for climate change” from the list of subscription options. We will also be posting updates on the process to this site. If you would like to learn more, be involved, or provide input, please contact gmarulemaking@commerce.wa.gov.

Climate Planning Guidance

In January 2024, Commerce published intermediate climate element planning guidance and a list of more than 200 model climate goals and policies (Menu of Measures) that jurisdictions could integrate into their comprehensive plan. A climate element can take the form of a single comprehensive plan chapter or be integrated into several chapters/elements such as housing, transportation, and land use.

Applicable cities and counties with a 2025 comprehensive plan periodic update deadline will be the first cities required to have a climate element and should use the intermediate guidance. 

Climate Planning Funding

Climate Planning Grant Overview

Commerce will make approximately $30 million available in statewide grants for the 2023-2025 biennium with an expectation that additional resources will be appropriated through the current periodic update. The current application window is closed. Commerce expects to have additional grant application windows. We expect the next funding window to open in the summer of 2024.

Grant Requirements

Each fully planning city and county is eligible for funding based on applicability (RCW 36.70A.040 (4)). These grants support implementation of HB 1181, with the current biennium’s funding prioritized for cities and counties with 2025 and 2026 due dates on their comprehensive plan updates. Grant amounts and distribution details are available in the grant instructions (PDF).

The following climate planning related activities are eligible for funding:

  • Adopting comprehensive plan policy and development regulation amendments to implement HB 1181 (2023) as applicable.
  • Other planning activities related to implementing HB 1181: A jurisdiction could propose both to adopt a climate element and conduct an implementation activity related to the adopted plan. Implementation activities must be climate planning related and not capital or infrastructure projects. Examples of implementation activities include (but not limited to): development of EV infrastructure plan; municipal building decarbonization plan; urban heat resilience strategy; or, native & climate-resilient planting plans for municipal projects.

Grant Materials

Grant workshop materials

Quick Links

Climate Commitment Act Logo

Climate support from Commerce is provided with funding from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act. The CCA supports Washington’s climate action efforts by putting cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health. Information about the CCA is available at www.climate.wa.gov.

Contact

Sarah Fox, AICP
Climate & Ecosystem Section Manager
GMSClimate@commerce.wa.gov
Phone: 360-725-3114

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