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March 30, 2006

City of Seattle's Climate Report

The mayor's office has released a series of recommendations by a Green Ribbon Commission to help Seattle meet or beat the Kyoto Pledge that Mayor Nickels made and challenged other cities to make.  These folks have been working on the recommendations for a year.  It is meant to serve as the basis for action for a plan for Seattle to be released in the fall.  The report is titled, "Seattle, A Climate of Change: Meeting the Kyoto Challenge"; it is a manageable 30 pages and there is a nice concise executive summary that is four pages.

Alan Durning at Cascadia Scorecard Weblog reviewed the report and he loves it.  He provides an analysis of the key recommendations:

Lead a regional partnership to develop and implement a road pricing system. Road pricing is the only way to solve congestion, and it’s a potent stimulant for alternatives to driving.

Implement a commercial parking tax Taxing parking is a great way to pay for alternatives.

Expand efforts to create compact, green, urban neighborhoods. Ultimately, compact neighborhoods are the real alternative to driving.

Durning has one regret about the report:

In a report that’s courageous enough to suggest parking taxes and regionwide tolls, it’s disappointing to see the veil of politeness descend in one case that’s critically important—the case of highways reconstruction.

The report's walking-on-eggshells mention of alternatives to more construction:

For example, decisions on major transportation infrastructure improvements, such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the two Lake Washington bridges, must closely consider the climate impacts of investment alternatives.

What Durning wishes they had said:

The mere fact that city leaders are seriously considering rebuilding multibillion dollar freeways through our city—while the ice sheets are melting, our snowpack is dwindling, our transit system is starved, our bike lanes are few and glass-strewn, and a quarter of our streets lack even sidewalks—is proof that we still have terribly far to go. Freeways are giant emissions generators. They’re the antithesis of climate leadership. We should never build another one in this or any other city. We should begin to tear them down.

The report is still a good beginning to a conversation that we will need to have, and quickly.

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 30, 2006 at 09:25 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink

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