In 2005, Seattle’s then Mayor Gregory J. Nickels launched the Mayor’s Climate Protection Initiative and challenged U.S. mayors to do what the federal government would not: meet the reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol. In 2006, Seattle was one of the first U.S. cities to adopt a Climate Action Plan, and to date the majority of that original plan’s actions have been implemented or are underway.
In 2011, Seattle adopted the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and launched a planning effort to meet that challenge. The planning process was designed to achieve emissions reduction goals and to enhance the quality of life of citizens. To realize this vision, the city embarked on a planning process built on robust analytics, stakeholder involvement, and community engagement.
Seattle’s latest Climate Action Plan focuses on sectors where city action will have the greatest impact — transport, building energy, and waste, which comprise most of Seattle’s emissions. Detailed modeling and analysis provided a clear picture of the most impactful strategies and an evaluation of social, economic and environmental co-benefits helped to refine the list of actions.
- Transport actions include expanding transit, walking, and bicycling infrastructure and services to provide safe and effective choices for getting around; while providing economic signals that better reflect the true cost of driving.
- Building energy actions include measuring building energy use; setting performance requirements; sharing information to increase awareness; and providing incentives for investment in cost-effective energy upgrades
- Waste sector actions include fostering product stewardship and new markets for recyclables, and increasing recycling and composting.
Each action in the plan has a detailed implementation strategy that identifies the lead and supporting city departments, key tasks, needed policy decisions, resource issues and planned public engagement. Greenhouse gas inventories taken every three years monitor the effectiveness of the climate actions underway.
With its new Plan, Seattle is expected to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The actions detailed in the Plan are on track to reduce the combined GHG emissions of the passenger transport and building energy sectors by 62% by 2030. They also provide a path to a climate-friendly, but also economically prosperous and socially just future, by integrating broader community goals and extensive stakeholder and community engagement.
The Climate Action Plan is intended to evolve over time. Monitoring of key indicators, along with emerging climate strategies, and input from the community, will inform future updates to the Plan.