Milestone reflects growing demand for action to stem climate crisis
SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels announced that as of today, 250 cities across the country have now joined Seattle in pledging to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help stem the growing threat of climate change.
Last week, the mayors of Tucson, Ariz., and Portland, Maine, formally joined the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Their commitment means nearly 46 million Americans in 43 states and the District of Columbia have pledged to meet or beat the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the Kyoto accord.
“The leaders of 250 cities across the country recognize that we can no longer wait to take action in the face of this growing threat to our communities,” Nickels said. “Together, we are making a difference and building tremendous momentum, despite the failure of our federal government to embrace this cause. We’re looking forward to this coalition growing to 300 cities and more.”
Tucson Mayor Robert Walkup said he is pleased to join Nickels and his fellow mayors in taking the lead on this critical issue.
“We are working with our businesses and residents to take the everyday steps that are key to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” Walkup said. “The citizens of Tucson respect our natural heritage and the Sonoran Desert, and we will do our part to help make a positive difference locally and globally.”
On Feb. 16, 2005, the day the Kyoto Treaty became law in 141 countries, Nickels challenged his mayoral colleagues to commit each of their cities to achieving the treaty’s target of bringing carbon emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
That day, Nickels also appointed a Green Ribbon Commission of Seattle area business, labor, environmental and government leaders to generate recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Seattle and the Puget Sound area. The commission’s work will serve as a model for other communities signed on to the Mayor’s Agreement.
The commission, co-chaired by Earth Day founder Denis Hayes and former Starbucks Chairman and CEO Orin Smith, issued a report in March. The report outlines 18 broad recommendations, ranging from instituting regional road tolls to boosting Seattle’s use of clean fuels, such as biodiesel. This fall Nickels will issue the Seattle Climate Action Plan, which will detail steps the government, businesses and residents can take to stem climate change.
Nickels has already taken steps to address the region’s biggest carbon offender - automobiles - in his “Bridging the Gap” transportation package. The mayor proposes spending more than $20 million per year on increased transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The package also proposes raising funds for transportation choices through a tax on commercial parking.
The city is also leading the creation of the Seattle Climate Partnership, a group of key businesses and institutions who will work together to fight greenhouse gas pollution. Starbucks, the University of Washington, the Port of Seattle and REI are among nine founding organizations. The goal is to have 25 of the city’s largest employers join the Partnership by September and the 50 largest employers by the end of 2006.
For a complete list of cities participating in the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and for more information about the city of Seattle’s climate change work, see www.seattle.gov/mayor/climate/.