Seattle mayor plans to cut gas-powered cars at City Hall to slash greenhouse gas

Dec 8, 2022, 7:33 AM | Updated: 9:06 am
greenhouse gas...
Mayor Bruce Harrell (Photo courtesy of the City of Seattle)
(Photo courtesy of the City of Seattle)

Seattle’s mayor has signed an ambitious plan aimed at slashing greenhouse gas in the city. It’s an executive order that focuses on city-owned vehicles across departments in an effort to foster collaboration to eliminate fossil-fuel-powered cars and trucks as well as promote alternative modes of transportation.

Mayor Bruce Harrell signed the plan with 23 separate initiatives, including eliminating all gasoline-powered vehicles used by the city by 2030.

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A recent greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concludes 61% of Seattle’s GHG emissions are from transportation. And, it finds the city is not currently on track to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

“We’ll achieve a 100% zero emission fossil-fuel-free city fleet by 2030,” said the mayor at a Wednesday news conference highlighting the order. “We’ll lead by example, we’ll ensure we have the electrification infrastructure in place.”

Other steps in the plan link the transportation initiatives with housing initiatives to determine how the city will address land use, housing, and job growth by pushing forward an emphasis on the effects on the climate.

“The actions in [this] initiative,” said Harrell, “will not only accelerate our efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses – but will also support clean energy businesses and the workforce.”

But perhaps the strongest part of the initiative is in the recognition that community well-being is linked to the city’s infrastructure, transportation systems, and climate. Climate impacts were highlighted by other city leaders in the news conference.

Jessyn Farrell, Director of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment, says a push to increase low pollution zones in some neighborhoods will help achieve what she called “environmental equity and resilience”.

One part of the order immediately visible to the public will be the continuation of the “Healthy Streets” initiative, which was started during the pandemic. Some 20 miles of city streets were closed to cars and trucks, so people who were under lockdown conditions had a place to get outside and exercise.

Now, the street closures will continue, with a focus on providing a safe space for walkers, bikers, and other alternative forms of human transportation to use, without having to share the space with cars and trucks. Also, there are new commitments to expand the city’s School Streets program.

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Seattle mayor plans to cut gas-powered cars at City Hall to slash greenhouse gas