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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Study Shows Seattle on Target to Meet Climate Goals

10/29/2007  3:00:00 PM
Alex Fryer, (206)684.3693

Study Shows Seattle on Target to Meet Climate Goals

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels today released an update of the city’s greenhouse gas inventory that shows the city has made tremendous progress in the effort to cut emissions and is on target to meet its climate protection goals.

The report shows that in 2005, the latest year studied, the city’s greenhouse gas emissions were about 8 percent below 1990 levels. And on a per capita level, the reduction was about 11 percent below 1990. The city has adopted the standards of the Kyoto Treaty, which call for reducing climate pollution to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

“This is a remarkable milestone that shows how cities can lead the way in the fight against global warming,” Nickels said. “It is a success that we can all celebrate. But it is just the start of our work. To beat global warming, we must not only maintain this achievement but go a magnitude beyond these numbers. That’s why we need everyone’s help in taking action.”

Conservation and climate-friendly policies by Seattle City Light are responsible for most of the reduction. The city also released a progress report on the Climate Action Plan, the 2006 roadmap that lists the initial actions Seattle must take to achieve its long-term goals.

The highlights from the report include:

  • Seattle is making excellent progress. Overall, the community’s carbon footprint is about 8 percent smaller than it was in 1990, resulting largely from energy conservation efforts by Seattle’s households and businesses, and Seattle City Light’s work to “zero out” the climate pollution associated with the development and delivery of electricity to its approximately 370,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers.

  • A greener city. Per capita greenhouse gas emissions in Seattle - total emissions divided by total population - were 11 percent lower in 2005 than they were in 1990. Per capita emissions in Seattle are about 11.5 tons per year. This compares favorably with per capita emissions in King County (12.8 tons per year), the central Puget Sound region (13.7 tons), statewide (14.1 tons) and across the United States (24 tons).

  • We’re using less power. Emissions from residential and commercial energy use, which together make up about 20 percent of our community’s carbon footprint, were both down compared to 1990 levels. These significant reductions are mostly the result of two efforts: 1) Seattle City Light’s transition to a “zero net emissions” electricity supply through investments in conservation, renewable energy sources, and carbon offsets; and 2) Seattle households and businesses converting from heating oil to natural gas, which is a less carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

  • Transportation challenges. Per capita transportation emissions fell about 1 percent. However, emissions from all transportation sources - road, rail, marine and air, which together make up about 60 percent of our community’s carbon footprint - were up about 3 percent compared to 1990.

  • An optimistic future. The work ahead will be to sustain Seattle’s gains, build on the momentum, and redouble efforts to reduce climate pollution in Seattle, not only by 7 percent by 2012, but by 80 percent by 2050. The city must reduce greenhouse gas emissions while growing both economically and demographically. Additional action will be taken to lower the consumption of fossil fuels in our homes, businesses and cars.

On Nov. 1 and 2, Seattle will host a national summit of mayors that will focus on local efforts to reduce climate pollution. It will be the largest-ever meeting of American mayors devoted solely to climate protection.

Visit the mayor’s Web site at Get the mayor’s inside view on efforts to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

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