16 May 2005

16.05.05. US mayors pledge action against global warming

In today’s Kyoto Blog we are pleased to report the latest news on the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement that was formally kicked off on 30 March, in the form of an article appearing in today’s New Zealand Herald (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=2&ObjectID=10125765). To round this out we add three background pieces on the Agreement itself, in the form of a short introduction, the full text of the Agreement, and the letter signed by nine US mayors and sent to more than 400 of their colleagues. A full set of materials can be had at http://www.cityofseattle.net/mayor/climate/default.htm).

But along with this information, I would like to ask you all a question. How if at all should we be trying to link the Kyoto World Cities 20/20 Challenge to their efforts? It would seem like a natural fit, and indeed we have been in touch with the mayor’s office in Seattle about this -- but thus far the working link has yet to be established. Ideas?
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US mayors pledge action against global warming
10.05.05. Andrew Buncombe, New Zealand Herald


WASHINGTON - Frustrated by the Bush administration's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Treaty, 132 US mayors have pledged to enforce the regulations in their own cities.

In a rejection of the government's position which claimed it would be too damaging to the US economy to enforce tougher environmental restrictions, the group of bipartisan city leaders has vowed to try and meet Kyoto's central target - a reduction in greenhouse gases to less than seven per cent of where they stood in 1990 in under 10 years.

The mayors involved in the alliance range from largely liberal cities such as Los Angeles, California, to strongholds of conservatism such as Hurst in President Bush's home state of Texas.
Between them they represent almost 29m citizens spread across 35 states. But they are joined by the idea that even if the federal government will not sign-up to Kyoto, a difference can be made at a local level.

Across the country, the shift in policies required if the city's are to hope to meet their targets, is already underway.

In Seattle, whose mayor Greg Nickel, was one of the organisers of the coalition, cruise ships that come in to dock at the port are now required to turn off their diesel engines while resupplying and instead rely on electricity provided by the city. The mayor's office said that by the end of the year, Seattle's power utility, Seattle City Light, will be the only one in the country with no net emissions of greenhouse gases.

In Salt Lake City, the city authority has become Utah's largest buyer of wind power in order to meet its reduction target.

In New York, the administration of Michael Bloomberg, which signed up last week, is trying to reduce emissions from the municipal fleet by buying hybrid powered vehicles.

The mayor of low-lying New Orleans, Ray Nagin, a Democrat, told the New York Times that he joined the coalition because a projected rise in sea levels "threatens the very existence of New Orleans".

In Hawaii, the mayor of Maui County, Alan Arakawa, a Republican, said he joined because he was frustrated by the administration's failure to recognise the scientific consensus that climate change was happening because of human activity.

Nathan Mantua, of the Centre for Science in the Earth System at the University of Washington, which estimates the impact of global warming on the US northwest, said the coalition's efforts were probably of limited global impact.

"It is clearly a politically significant step in the right direction," he said.

"It may be an environmentally significant step for air quality in the cities that are going to do this, but for the global warming problem it is a baby step."

But the coalition of mayors is not the only local initiative to reduce emissions of such gasses.

Last November, nine states, led by New York's Governor, George Pataki, announced a system to cap and trade greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), industries covered by the schemes will be given allocations in units of one ton of carbon dioxide produced. Polluters could then either reduce their emissions or buy allocations on a market from others.

In the US, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which cause acid rain and smog, are federally regulated and traded, but there is no federal regulation of carbon dioxide.

A White House official said that joining the Kyoto Treaty, which came into effect last February, would have cost the US economy 5m jobs.

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US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement

Date: March 30, 2005

Source: http://www.cityofseattle.net/mayor/climate/default.htm

Introduction:

Climate disruption is an urgent threat to the environmental and economic health of our communities. Many cities, in this country and abroad, already have strong local policies and programs in place to reduce global warming pollution, but more action is needed at the local, state, and federal levels to meet the challenge. On February 16, 2005 the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to address climate disruption, became law for the 141 countries that have ratified it to date. On that day, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels launched this initiative to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol through leadership and action by at least 141 American cities. Mayor Nickels, along with a growing number of other US mayors, is leading the development of a US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement ; our goal is for at least 141 cities to sign onto the Agreement by the time of the U.S. Conference of Mayors June meeting in Chicago.

Under the Agreement, participating cities commit to take following three actions:

· Strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities, through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns;

· Urge their state governments, and the federal government, to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol -- 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and

· Urge the U.S. Congress to pass the bipartisan Climate Stewardship Act, which would establish a national emission trading system

In addition to building a coalition of at least 141 cities to sign onto the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, Mayor Nickels, along with the other participating mayors, is leading an effort to win endorsement of the Agreement by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, through passage of a [resolution] at their upcoming meeting in June.

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The U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement:

A. We urge the federal government and state governments to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol target of reducing global warming pollution levels to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012, including efforts to: reduce the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate the development of clean, economical energy resources and fuel-efficient technologies such as conservation, methane recovery for energy generation, wind and solar energy, fuel cells, efficient motor vehicles, and biofuels;

B. We urge the U.S. Congress to pass the bipartisan Climate Stewardship Act sponsored by Senators McCain and Lieberman and Representatives Gilchrist and Olver, which would create a flexible, market-based system of tradable allowances among emitting industries; and

C. We will strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing global warming pollution by taking actions in our own operations and communities such as:

  1. Inventory global warming emissions in City operations and in the community, set reduction targets and create an action plan.
  2. Adopt and enforce land-use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities;
  3. Promote transportation options such as bicycle trails, commute trip reduction programs, incentives for car pooling and public transit;
  4. Increase the use of clean, alternative energy by, or example, investing in “green tags”, advocating for the development of renewable energy resources, and recovering landfill methane for energy production;
  5. Make energy efficiency a priority through building code improvements, retrofitting city facilities with energy efficient lighting and urging employees to conserve energy and save money;
  6. Purchase only Energy Star equipment and appliances for City use;
  7. Practice and promote sustainable building practices using the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program or a similar system;
  8. Increase the average fuel efficiency of municipal fleet vehicles; reduce the number of vehicles; launch an employee education program including anti-idling messages; convert diesel vehicles to bio-diesel;
  9. Evaluate opportunities to increase pump efficiency in water and wastewater systems; recover wastewater treatment methane for energy production;
  10. Increase recycling rates in City operations and in the community;
  11. Maintain healthy urban forests; promote tree planting to increase shading and to absorb CO2; and
  12. Help educate the public, schools, other jurisdictions, professional associations, business and industry about reducing global warming pollution.

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Call to Action: Letter send to more than 400 US mayors

Cities Working Together to Protect Our Air Quality, Health and Environment:

March 30, 2005

Dear Mayor:

We invite you to join the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement by signing onto the enclosed resolution and supporting it at the US Conference of Mayors meeting in June. We also welcome the endorsement of other Mayors, whether or not you are currently a member of the US Conference of Mayors.

With less than 5% of the world’s population, the US produces more than 25% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, and those emissions are continuing to grow. We believe that US cities can – and should – act to reduce global warming pollution, both in our own municipal operations and in our communities. Many of us are already doing so through programs such as energy conservation, urban forest restoration, controlling sprawl and using alternative fuels in our fleets. Not only are we reducing our contributions to global warming pollution, we are investing in more livable cities through cleaner air, creation and preservation of open space and urban forests, and reduced energy costs.

On February 16, the Kyoto Treaty, the international agreement to address climate disruption, became law for the 141 countries that have ratified it to date. As you know, the United States is not among them. For 38 of the countries with the most advanced economies, the Treaty sets binding legal commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels. If the United States had ratified the Kyoto Treaty our nation would be required to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 7% below 1990 levels by 2012.

Please join us and the other Mayors who are already committed to providing leadership on this nationwide, urgent effort. When we meet together at the June US Conference of Mayors we intend to have at least 141 mayors signed up to participate in the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The June meeting is an opportunity to promote and expand this effort by passing a resolution that endorses the Agreement. Although there have been climate protection resolutions adopted by the USCM in prior years, you will see that we are urging specific actions – the only way we will make real progress in reversing the trend toward global warming.

Since Seattle’s Mayor Greg Nickels first announced this initiative on February 16, the interest and positive feedback has remained intense, including national news stories. This is an opportunity to build on what is becoming an increasingly bi-partisan issue. And it is an opportunity to provide real leadership to the more than 80% of Americans who think the US should be acting to reduce global warming pollution.

Enclosed, please find the draft Resolution, which includes the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and a form for your signature. Also included are contacts for more information; the website for the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement is www.seattle.gov/mayor. To meet our target of having most signatures collected by May 2, we look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully,

  • Mayor Greg Nickels, Seattle, Washington.
  • Mayor Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Mayor Peter Clavelle, Burlington, Vermont
  • Mayor Rosemarie Ives, Redmond, Washington
  • Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco, California
  • Mayor Pam O’Conner, Santa Monica, California
  • Mayor Tom Potter, Portland, Oregon
  • Mayor Mark Ruzzin, Boulder, Colorado
  • Mayor R.T. Rybak, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Mayor Jerry Brown, Oakland, California

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