Climate Change and the Future of Seattle
This book explores Seattle’s current climate policy agenda and future climate challenges within the context of its historical, bio-regional, and metropolitan settings.

Hardback, 130 Pages


March 2021

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

Seattle is one of the most politically progressive and economically dynamic cities in the contemporary United States, popularly known as the ‘Emerald City’ for its natural setting and environmental politics. This book explores a range of political, policy, and project efforts in Seattle and the wider region to mitigate and adapt to the formidable reality of global climate change. Developing a framework suggested originally by the Urban Climate Change Research Network, the book’s core analysis considers both tantalizing progress and tangible problems in Seattle’s climate action initiatives so far. The narrative explores how Seattle is integrating carbon mitigation with adaptation; advancing climate action networks; co-generating risk information; coordinating disaster risk reduction with climate change adaptation; and, most importantly, focusing on historically and geographically disadvantaged populations. 

Linking together past, present, and future, Climate Change and the Future of Seattle argues that Seattle in the 2020s is less an ‘Emerald City’ than an ‘Elite Emerald’. Income inequalities have grown while gentrification pressures have increased. Class structures have steadily shifted upwards, leaving the working poor and homeless especially vulnerable to climate change. Profoundly uncomfortable with this contradiction, local climate change efforts are shaped by mounting political concerns not only with mitigation-adaptation commitments and risk aversion policies to manage rising sea levels, warmer temperatures and more variable rainfall patterns, but also with reshaping a metropolitan space-economy that too often favors and consistently rewards the high-tech “cognitariat” over middle- and low-income households and communities of color. 

Ultimately, Seattle cannot become post-carbon if it is not also post-polarized, resilient if not also just. The lessons that Seattle learns in pursuit of more inclusive climate action will thus be of abiding interest to cities and metropolitan regions across the United States and all around the world.


Dr. Dierwechter provides a compelling and comprehensive analysis of climate governance in Seattle. Through a rich and detailed case study, the book offers several conceptual interventions that allow us to better evaluate the possibilities and advances made by municipal action on climate change, as well as the inequalities that can result. This is a fantastic read for anyone interested in more socially and ecologically just urban futures under climate change. — Jennifer L. Rice, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Georgia

Seattle has long been celebrated as a global exemplar of sustainable urban development. Dierwechter’s engaging and timely study of the Emerald City’s climate policies and pressures reveals the contradictions and contestations in the pursuit of resilient, progressive, and just futures. — Andrew Karvonen, Associate Professor of Sustainable Urban Development, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Author Information

Yonn Dierwechter is Professor of Geography and Planning in the School of Urban Studies at the University of Washington, Tacoma. His research interests include spatial planning systems, city-regionalism, and new urban geographies of sustainability. 


Climate Change and the Future of the North American City

Anthem Impact

Anthem Environment and Sustainability Initiative

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; List of Abbreviations; 1 Introduction: Changing Seattle; 2. Background: Seattle’s Green Development Story; 3. Current Situation: Building a “Climate-Friendly” City in an Unsustainable World; 4. The Future: Climate Change, Social Vulnerabilities, and the Transformational Agenda; 5. Conclusion: Seattle’s Lessons; References; Index.


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