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Think globally, act locally: Mayors move on climate change

October 3, 2009 |  2:13 pm

Greg-Nickels-Climate
In a new report on efforts by U.S. cities to outdo the federal government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels admits that even the early strides made by Seattle -- reducing the city's 1990 carbon footprint by 8% in 2005 -- don't allow the city to rest on its laurels. Today's gains could be tomorrow's losses. Real measures to slow the warming of the planet will take patience, persistence and a determination to press on despite setbacks.

"I'm a realist, and I see Seattle's population growing, so I know we're going to have to increase our environmental vigilance in the coming years in order to stay on track and reach our climate protection goals," said Nickels, who announced that 1,000 mayors have signed on to the U.S. Conference of Mayors initiative to unilaterally limit their own greenhouse gas emissions.

"I also know that this generation, which is showing such a bold willingness to shed old behaviors and habits in the name of climate protection, won't come up with all the answers and won't make the atmosphere a pure place any time soon," he added. "But with each passing decade, we'll make more and more progress greening our cities ... and nobody will forget that all this started because 1,000 courageous and broad-minded mayors thought of the Earth as well as their neighborhood turf at the same time."

The report on the program so far outlines what cities across the country are doing to transition to cleaner fuels, phase in lower-energy lighting, synchronize traffic lights to keep traffic moving more quickly and cleanly and raise energy-efficiency standards for new construction.

"The city of Los Angeles has the largest carbon emissions output of any city in the state of California, which has the largest carbon footprint of any state in the U.S., which has the largest carbon footprint of any country in the world," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in the profile on Los Angeles, which has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% below 1990 levels by the year 2030.

--Kim Murphy

Photo: Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

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