Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mayor Launches Effort to Cut Seattle’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

SEATTLE—Mayor Greg Nickels today announced his Seattle Climate Action Plan, the cornerstone of the effort to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 680,000 metric tons and meet the 2012 international goals of the Kyoto Protocol right here at home.

The plan is the most comprehensive climate-protection package in the city’s history. It calls for major new investments and expanded programs to support individuals, government and businesses in curbing the threat of climate disruption by reducing harmful emissions across the entire city.

“Climate change is the biggest environmental threat facing our planet,” Nickels said. “With the release of the Seattle Climate Action Plan, we start down a hopeful – but challenging – road toward a solution.”

The comprehensive program, to be monitored and updated every two years, is the city’s response to last spring’s recommendations by the mayor’s Green Ribbon Commission on Climate Protection. It details a series of specific steps that residents, business and the city will take to reach the Kyoto target of 7 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2012. The bulk of the effort relies on reducing emissions from motor-fuel, natural gas and other sources at home, on the road, at work and in the community.

“When it comes to climate change, we are all part of the problem – and part of the solution,” Nickels said “Together, we can make Seattle the most climate-friendly city in the country.”

The plan builds on a strong environmental foundation in Seattle. City government has already cut its emissions by 60 percent from 1990 levels and operates the only electric utility in the nation, Seattle City Light, to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, this marks the second year in a row Seattle City Light has achieved zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, 307 mayors from 46 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement initiated by Mayor Nickels, meaning cities where 51 million Americans live stand with Seattle in the commitment to meet the Kyoto target.

The mayor’s 2007-2008 proposed budget calls for a $37 million investment over the next two years to reduce emissions. Thirty-four million dollars of this is part of the Bridging the Gap proposal, which includes a levy lid lift that will be decided by voters in November.

Bridging the Gap contains funding for:

  • Substantial bicycle and pedestrian improvements, including new and extended bikeways, sidewalks and trails, and safety upgrades to crosswalks citywide.
  • Increased public transportation service, including funding that leverages a two-for-one match from King County Metro’s Transit Now package.
  • Investments in freight mobility that will reduce emissions by easing congestion for trucks.
  • Renovation of King Street Station as a multi-modal transportation hub.

The mayor’s General Fund budget contains funding for:

  • A broad awareness and education campaign, to be waged with partner agencies, to educate the community on the link between fossil-fuel consumption and climate change and to inspire action.
  • A new Neighborhood Climate Protection Matching Fund to spur community-based climate protection projects, such as local biodiesel cooperatives and car- and tool-sharing programs.
  • Covering two outdoor public swimming pools to conserve natural gas used for heating.

Nickels also announced the launch of the Seattle Climate Partnership, a group of influential businesses and organizations that have agreed to work together to assess their climate impacts and cut emissions in their operations, through employees, with customers and suppliers. Among the 21 early-stage members are Starbucks Coffee Co., Lafarge North America, Port of Seattle, University of Washington, REI Inc., Group Health Cooperative, HomeStreet Bank, King County, Seattle University and the City of Seattle.

Joining Mayor Nickels at Wednesday’s announcement were William Ruckelshaus, former EPA chief and strategic director of the Madrona Venture Group; Sally Jewell, chief executive of REI; Denis Hayes, founder of Earth Day and president of the Bullitt Foundation; and Mayor Dan Coody of Fayetteville, Ark. Ruckelshaus was a member of the Green Ribbon Commission. Hayes was the commission’s co-chair.

For more information, visit the mayor’s web site at Get the mayor’s inside view on initiatives to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

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