|Seattle’s GHG emissions and Kyoto target. The 2012 column represents the business-as-usual scenario.|
The Green Ribbon Commission on Climate Protection convened by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has delivered its recommended actions for meeting or beating the greenhouse gas emissions-cutting goals of the Kyoto Protocol in Seattle.
Of the 18 recommendations, eight deal directly with transportation issues, accounting for a projected 54% of the additional total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol targets a 7% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2012, relative to a 1990 baseline. Seattle’s reaching that target would require a reduction of emissions by 683,514 tons, the equivalent of taking about 148,000 cars off the road.
The Commission calculates that the results from fully implementing its recommendations, combined with the reduction actions already being taken (such as through the adoption of the California CO2 restrictions on cars), would result in a total reduction in 2012 of 721,100—exceeding the Kyoto target.
Nickels convened the 18-member commission in February 2005, at the same time he launched the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. (Earlier post.)
In the introduction to the report, the Commission notes that:
It’s clear that meeting or beating the Kyoto target will be difficult for a number of reasons. One, the timeframe is short; 2012 is less than six years away. In addition, our electricity supply is already climate neutral, thanks to Seattle City Light’s commitment to zero net greenhouse gas emissions.
That puts more of the focus on the complex challenge of reducing motor vehicle emissions. And, it means that success will require a deliberate, sustained, community-wide effort.
Because our emissions come predominantly from the transportation sector, our climate strategy must be regional in scope. Nowhere is this dynamic more obvious than in the area of motor vehicle emissions. Seattle’s government and community are leading the way, but success will ultimately depend on intelligent growth management and public transportation systems at the regional scale.
The recommendations fall into five primary categories, two dealing with policy:
Reduce Seattle’s dependence on cars. Projected reduction: 170,000 tons.
Increase fuel efficiency and use of biofuels. Projected reduction: 200,600 tons.
Achieve more efficient and cleaner energy for homes and businesses. Projected reduction: 316,000 tons.
Build on Seattle’s leadership.
Sustain the commitment.
Only by driving fewer cars and fewer miles can we meet our Kyoto target. But like most American cities, Seattle is car-dependent. Each year, Seattleites drive more than 20 times the distance to the sun—and back—and spend more than an average work week just sitting in traffic. The cost of this is enormous—wasted time, wasted dollars, and the largest source of Seattle’s global warming pollution.
This must change. We must accelerate and intensify our City’s progress in planning, funding and building housing, businesses and infrastructure that encourage alternatives to driving—walking, biking, and convenient public transit. And we need to launch a comprehensive public information campaign that communicates these messages.
To achieve some of those goals, the commission recommended eight specific actions:
Increase the Supply of Frequent, Reliable and Convenient Public Transportation. The commission call for funding for new public transportation infrastructure and improve existing services.
Expanded Bicycling and Pedestrian Infrastructure .The recommendation calls for the doubling of the number of striped bike lanes on arterial streets, completing the urban bike trail system, increasing bike parking, and encouraging or requiring new commercial construction to include bike racks, lockers and showers. The report also calls for improvements that would support walking, including the creation of a Pedestrian Master Plan.
Regional Road Pricing System. This recommends establishing a regional tolling system, a portion of the revenues form which would fund transit services.
A New Commercial Parking Tax.
Create Compact, Green, Urban Neighborhoods. The report notes that creating such neighborhoods is a critical element of reducing urban sprawl and protecting the climate.
Improve the Average Fuel Efficiency of Seattle’s Cars and Trucks. The 400,000 registered vehicles in Seattle are the city’ss single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2005 Washington State joined other states in adopting California’s CO2 regulations.
The Commission calls for a regional partnership to create and implement a targeted public awareness campaign focused on reducing driving and increasing fuel efficiency and use of biofuels, and to increase the use of car-sharing. Furthermore, the City should work with the appropriate agencies to improve the fuel efficiency of the taxi fleets.
Substantially Increase the Use of Biofuels. The report calls for collaboration between the City, the Port of Seattle, the Clean Air Agency and the Clean Cities Coalition to promote biofuel use, particularly in freight-handling and trucking operations. The City and the Port should also require contractors to use biodiesel for large projects and create incentives for developers who use biodiesel.
Significantly Reduce Emissions from Diesel Trucks, Trains and Ships. The Commission recommends the establishment of shore power facilities at port facilities for use by cruise ships. The Seattle Department of Transportation, the State Department of Transportation and the Port should work together to improve the efficiency of key truck corridors. The Puget Sound Regional Council should provide more funding for transportation projects that reduce climate pollution. And, the City, the Clean Air Agency, the Port, Washington State Ferries and marine and rail terminal operators should partner on programs to reduce diesel emissions.