Seattle dreams of 'green' team
- SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
Seattle dreams of 'green' team
Mayor urging other U.S. cities to enact Kyoto Protocol
Thursday, February 17, 2005
By KATHY MULADY
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
The U.S. government may have turned its back on the Kyoto Protocol,
but Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said yesterday he plans to spearhead a
city-by-city effort to implement the climate-protection measures that
went into effect in more than 100 other countries yesterday.
Nickels said he is gathering support from mayors in other cities and
plans to build a "green" coalition of his counterparts at the U.S.
Conference of Mayors when the group meets in Chicago in June.
"Seattle, along with other U.S. cities, will provide the leadership
necessary to meet this threat," Nickels said.
He plans to introduce a resolution at the mayors conference setting
up the coalition for other cities to join. To be eligible, cities
would have to agree to certain steps to lower greenhouse gas
emissions. The details of the resolution are still being worked out.
The Kyoto Protocol was hammered out in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 and
commits countries to reduce or limit the output of six gases, chiefly
carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning coal and oil products.
By 2012 the European Union, for example, is to reduce emissions by 8
percent below 1990 levels and Japan by 6 percent.
The United States had envisioned a 7 percent reduction, signed the
protocol in 1997, but in 2001, President Bush renounced the
agreement, saying compliance would cost millions of U.S. jobs.
In the meantime, many cities across the country, including Seattle,
have adopted the Kyoto Protocol standards, or set even higher goals.
When the city of Seattle adopted the Kyoto Protocol four years ago,
while Paul Schell was mayor, it joined nearly 100 other U.S. cities
in setting reduction targets.
The 2001 resolution called for dramatically reducing greenhouse gas
emissions by the city, and calling on national leaders to support
targets at least as aggressive as those described in the Kyoto
Nickels said he will work with the state Legislature to pass the
clean-car bill, requiring stronger emission standards for cars sold
in Washington. The legislation is based on a similar law adopted in
Nickels has also directed city departments to reduce paper use 30
percent by the end of 2006 and said that global warming will be a
consideration in doling out neighborhood matching fund grants.
Yesterday, Nickels also announced a commission on climate protection
that will be led by Denis Hayes, founder of the first Earth Day and
president of the environmentally focused Bullitt Foundation. Orin
Smith, president of Starbucks Coffee Co., also will lead the
In making his announcement yesterday, Nickels was flanked by Hayes
and Steve Howard, chief executive of the Climate Group, a non-profit
based in London dedicated to slowing greenhouse gas emissions.
Hayes described the effects of global warming that are already being
seen in Europe. He described small indicators such as bees that no
longer hibernate and a 2003 heat wave that killed thousands in Europe.
"Early movers like Seattle have a farsighted advantage in taking a
leadership position," Howard said. "It is good for business, good for
the community and good for the world."
Some see evidence of global warming in the Pacific Northwest where
the snowpack provides water, hydroelectricity and irrigation.
According to reports, the Cascade snowpack is down 50 percent since
The city of Seattle government has reduced its emissions 60 percent
since 1990, said Steve Nicholas, director of the city's Office of
Sustainability and Environment. The city required more fuel
efficiency in its cars and attempted to reduce the number of trips
However, communitywide it is a different story, according to a report
by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
By 2010 emissions are expected to increase 21 percent above the 1990
number, and by 38 percent by 2020.
About 50 percent of those emissions come from vehicles.
Councilwoman Jean Godden, head of the city's energy and environmental
policy committee, was in Olympia yesterday to testify in support of
the proposed clean car legislation. The bill calls on manufacturers
to dramatically reduce car emissions by 2012.
"Interestingly enough, by doing that it could save people about $18 a
month in gasoline costs," Godden said.
She said she is excited about Nickels' plans.
"As we know, the council adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, and now
the mayor has taken it a step farther and is challenging other cities
to do the same," she said. "I am very excited, we are going the right
direction and setting the standard. "
Councilman Richard Conlin, who was also in Olympia yesterday, called
Nickels' announcement "great."
"All of those things are wonderful; we are glad to have him on
board," Conlin said.
K.C. Golden, policy director for Climate Solutions, said Seattle is
well positioned to set the standard for other cities.
"This was ground zero for the information revolution, we have more
than our share of the world's innovators here," he said. "Our
contribution to the solution can be bigger than our contribution to
Mayors in some other cities have already pledged to work with Seattle.
In a statement, Portland Mayor Tom Potter said his city was the first
in the country to adopt a policy for reducing greenhouse gas
"We are proud that the people of Seattle share our vision for turning
the crisis of global warming into an opportunity to transform our
economy and leave a healthier planet for our children and
grandchildren," he said.
Mayor Jerry Brown of Oakland, Calif., added his support. Oakland has
set a goal of 15 percent reduction by 2010.