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.
  • Climate elements must maximize economic, environmental, and social co-benefits and prioritize environmental justice in order to avoid worsening environmental health disparities.
  • 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 Law: HB 1181 (2023) – FAQ (PDF)

Who Must Create a Climate Element

The Growth Management Act (GMA) includes 15 mandatory elements, with climate planning being the most recently added. The climate-related changes to the GMA that are reflected in HB 1181 (Chapter 228, Laws of 2023) include amendments to other mandatory elements with timeframes for applicability based on the periodic update schedule. Applicable jurisdictions must update their transportation element, land use element, and add a climate element, which is comprised of a greenhouse gas emissions reduction sub-element and a resilience sub-element. These requirements apply to the following counties and their cities with a population greater than 6,000 as of April 1, 2021 (per the Office of Financial Management):

The resilience sub-element is mandatory for all counties and cities fully planning under the GMA and is encouraged for all other jurisdictions (counties and cities) not listed in the table above. Commerce provides a complete 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 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 application window closes on October 31, 2023.

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.

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

Climate Planning Guidance

In June 2023, Commerce published early 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.

The original guidance document was intended to be final as of June 2023. However, with the changes to statute in 2023, Commerce will need to revise the new guidance to reflect these updates to the law. We expect to publish intermediate guidance by December 2023. 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. 

The following translated executive summaries also include chapters one and two for the early guidance.