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City of Seattle
Seattle City Council

SUBJECT: Seattle City Council hosts Carbon Neutrality Community Forum

9/15/2010  10:00:00 AM
Sierra Hansen, Councilmember O'Brien's office, 206-233-3811
Dana Robinson Slote  (206) 615-0061

Councilmember Mike O'Brien

Seattle City Council hosts Carbon Neutrality Community Forum
Sectors make recommendations for immediate and long-term actions

Seattle – In 2010, the Seattle City Council established carbon neutrality as one of its seventeen Council priorities. As part of an ongoing effort to engage the community, the Council hosted a community forum last night at City Hall.

The Seattle City Council heard presentations from representatives from eight different sector groups: Transportation, Green Jobs, Land Use, Energy, Youth, Neighborhoods, Food Systems, and Zero Waste. Each group made recommendations for actions that should be taken in the next 1-3 years to continue on the City’s path to carbon neutrality.

"Land use is the key to helping Seattle truly become a carbon-efficient city," said Sara Nicolic, representative of the land use sector. "Most importantly, land use patterns can either lock us into car-dependence and the excessive greenhouse gas emissions that come with it, or can enable the alternative transportation modes that are the most critical component in Seattle’s path towards carbon neutrality."

“I am impressed by the amazing effort shown by the community members in each sector who have organized themselves and spent hundreds of volunteer hours generating recommendations and white papers that will inform the work Seattle will undertake over the next few years,” said Councilmember Mike O'Brien, chair of the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods committee.

“Progressive transportation solutions are critical in moving Seattle towards carbon neutrality, as about 40 percent of Seattle's carbon emissions come from road transport alone,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, a member of the Transportation group. “We look forward to working with City of Seattle staff and elected officials to help create a greener and healthier city for ourselves and for future generations." One of the recommendations included utilizing pricing mechanisms such as increased parking prices and tolling to reduce single occupancy car usage.

“Reducing garbage presents a huge opportunity to protect the environment while saving money,” said Heather Trim, member of the Zero Waste sector. “Seattle Public Utilities has been a leader in reducing waste, but we still have quite a bit of work that the community can get behind to help eliminate sending waste to a landfill 250 miles away.”

 The Zero Waste group reminded City Councilmembers that in 2009, 50 percent of garbage that was thrown away was either compostable or recyclable and urged passage of legislation such as the phone book opt-out to reduce the amount of waste generated in Seattle.

“It’s important to recognize there is a wide spectrum of green career pathways and hundreds of so-called ‘green collar jobs,’ in renewable energy, water and waste management, land use, environmental planning, transportation, and the list goes on,” said Stacy Noland, a member of the Green Jobs sector. “To be truly equitable, Seattle will need to incorporate policies promoting green economic and workforce development opportunities in all sectors, not just a select few.” 

Other recommendations included creating a carbon neutral food shoppers guide to help consumers make good choices from the food systems group. The neighborhood group asked the Council to continue to engage with residents and improve access to city data enabling them to tackle projects in their own community.  Students from Garfield High School, members of the youth engagement group, called on the Council to restore full funding for Neighborhood Matching Recycling Grants that support composting programs in schools, and to require environmental education courses in all high schools.

For more information about the carbon neutrality community work, please visit

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