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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Seattle creating 'Climate of Change' to battle global warming

3/24/2006  3:00:00 PM

Seattle creating ‘Climate of Change’ to battle global warming
Mayor receives Commission recommendations for meeting Kyoto target

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels received a package of recommendations today for meeting the goals of the international Kyoto Protocol in Seattle by reducing global warming pollution by more than 680,000 tons -- equivalent to the emissions from about 150,000 cars.

The report of the mayor’s Green Ribbon Commission calls on the entire Seattle community -- residents, businesses and government -- to make Seattle “the most climate-friendly city in the nation” by taking actions now to curb the harmful emissions that are contributing to global warming.

“This is an important day for everyone who loves Seattle and cares about the future of our planet,” Nickels said. “The challenge before us is clear: we must change today to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, or face the consequences of a world changed by global warming. By taking bold action in our city today, we will show other communities, states and eventually the federal government that we can choose a better future.”

Nickels convened the commission last year at the same time he launched his U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. So far, 218 mayors representing 44 million Americans in 39 states have signed on to Nickels’ agreement, pledging to join Seattle in meeting the Kyoto goals.

Frustrated by lack of federal leadership on global warming, Nickels proposed the agreement the day the Kyoto Protocols went into effect in the 141 countries that had ratified it -- not including the United States. The agreement has spawned a grassroots, bipartisan effort that is addressing the global warming threat to our environment, communities, and economy.

The report lays out 18 steps the city can take to cut emissions, from significantly increasing transit, bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure to new road pricing strategies to improving the energy efficiency of our homes and office buildings.

Commission Co-Chair Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation and co-founder of Earth Day, said Seattle is providing much needed leadership on global warming.

“This morning, our commission is pleased to present to Mayor Nickels a set of sensible recommendations that, if implemented, will allow Seattle to achieve its commitment to the Kyoto Treaty,” Hayes said. “Our hope is that 200 more cities will soon follow Seattle's lead.

“The intransigence of the federal government in the face of climate disruption is damaging America’s standing in the community of nations,” he continued. “The bipartisan, grassroots explosion of commitment to concrete action on climate by America’s mayors offers a ray of hope.”

The commission concluded that Seattle must cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 680,000 metric tons a year by 2012 to meet the Kyoto target of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 7 percent below 1990 levels. The group’s recommendations go beyond that goal and call for removing 720,500 metric tons.

Commission member William Ruckelshaus, a principal in Madrona Investment Group and a former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, praised the Mayor’s efforts.

“The mayor gave us a big challenge and I commend him for it,” Ruckelshaus said. “The actions we’ve recommended, once under way, will make us better prepared for the future.”

Participants at today’s event underscored the national significance of Seattle’s leadership. Nickels was joined by former Vice President Al Gore, an outspoken leader in the effort to prevent global warming. Other speakers included Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, U.S. Reps. Jay Inslee and Adam Smith, and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez.

The community will learn more about the commission’s recommendations through a series of events over the next several months. Nickels will use the recommendations and public comment to create Seattle’s Climate Action Plan, to be released later this year.

Here in the Northwest, the effects of a warming climate can already be seen. The snow pack in the mountains has fallen 50 percent on average over the past 50 years, threatening the region’s main source of power and water.

The commission recommended the following steps for cutting Seattle’s emissions:

  1. Reduce Seattle’s dependence on cars and cut greenhouse gas emissions by::
    • Increasing the supply of frequent, reliable and convenient public transportation;
    • Significantly expanding bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure;
    • Leading a regional partnership to develop and implement a road pricing system;
    • Implementing a new commercial parking tax; and
    • Expanding efforts to create compact, green, urban neighborhoods.

  2. Increase fuel efficiency and use of biofuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions:
    • Improve the average fuel efficiency of Seattle’s cars and trucks;
    • Substantially increase the use of biofuels;
    • Significantly reduce emissions from diesel trucks, trains and ships;
    • Maintain City Light at zero net greenhouse gas emissions;
    • Substantially increase natural gas energy conservation;
    • Strengthen the state energy code, and;
    • Reduce Seattle Steam’s use of natural gas.

  3. Build on Seattle’s leadership:
    • Continue Seattle’s strong leadership example;
    • Mobilize the entire community;
    • Create the Seattle Climate Partnership, and;
    • Leverage regional and state Action for climate solutions;

  4. Sustain our commitment:
    • Direct more resources to the challenge, and;
    • Monitor action and report on progress.

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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