Climate Policy Approval Process

On April 27, 2020, Bellingham City Council approved a vetting process for City staff to identify items from the Climate Action Plan (CAP) measures and Climate Task Force​ (CTF) recommendations to implement each year. The completion of this vetting process will result in a Climate Implementation Plan that is updated annually, and through that, progress on Bellingham’s climate goals.​


The complex graphic below outlines the climate policy approval process that staff are following to determine which measures and recommendations will be included in the Climate Implementation Plan each year. First, all 145 CAP measures and CTF recommendations are ranked and sorted into tiers in Staff Filter #1. Second, items that are sorted into Tier 1 move on to Staff Filter #2, where they are analyzed through a Triple Bottom Line – Plus (TBL+) study. After public input and approval from Council, high-ranking items in the TBL+ are then added to ​Climate Implementation Plan, with an explanation of how each measure will be implemented. This plan will be updated annually. Staff Filters #1 and #2 are explained in further detail below. ​

Current Status

The Climate Action Plan was completed in 2018 and the Climate Task Force Report in 2019. Staff completed the first step in this process, Staff Filter #1, in June 2020. They presented their results to Council on June 8, 2020 – see Item 8 of the Council agenda to watch the presentation and view supporting documents. Staff are currently working through Staff Filter #2, which is the Triple Bottom Line – Plus (TBL+) study in the second step of the process. 

Staff Filter #1 – Quantitative Ranking

Staff Filter #1 sorts the 145 items from the CAP and CTF into the four Tiers listed below. In general, items that demonstrate the largest overall potential for emissions reduction, relative to time and energy inputs, and scored high within a list of several factors are placed into Tiers 1 and 2.​

The Tiers used to sort the items in Staff Filter #1 are summarized as such:

  • Tier 1: Ready for TBL+ analysis. These items have been ranked high and contain minimal unknowns. They are recommended for advancement to Staff Filter #2, the Triple Bottom Line – Plus (TBL+) feasibility study that is the second step of the vetting process.
  • Tier 2: Additional research necessary. These items ranked moderately high and/or have a moderate level of unknowns. They need further evaluation to determine if they should be promoted to Tier 1 and then to Staff Filter #2 or demoted to Tier 3 for revaluation during the next annual vetting process.
  • Tier 3: Table until next annual update. These items ranked low and/or have a high level of unknowns. Factors that determined assignment of measures to this tier include: Estimated low emissions reduction, not first in a s​equence of measures, high staff time needed for research relative to output, not appropriate for City lead, or legal barriers.
  • Tier 0: Complete, ongoing, eliminated.These are items that arecomplete as originally designed, are continuing in some form, or are no longer relevant as originally designed.

Staff Filter #2 – TBL+ Feasibility Study

Staff Filter #2, the second step in the vetting process, will rank the items that were sorted into Tier 1 during Staff Filter #1 using a Triple Bottom Line – Plus (TBL+) analysis. Staff will consider greenhouse gas reduction, social, financial, environmental, and technological factors when evaluating the items. ​

Public Participation

The City is committed to ongoing and meaningful public participation in all decision-making processes and welcomes community involvement. Staff recognize the benefit in engaging the public to help inform Council decisions. There are several ways the public can provide input during the development of the Climate Implementation Plan, including providing verbal or written comment at City Council mee​​tings​; providing written comment to the Mayor or staff; engaging in focus groups, outreach meetings, surveys, workshops, tours or open houses, when available; asking questions and providing feedback on the Engage Bellingham website; and signing up to receive email updates to stay up to date on City climate work.

Additional Resources

Recent staff presentations to City Council:​



Seth Vidañ​a, Climate Energy Manager​​