Our City and the next mayor must provide bold leadership on climate action, environmental justice, and the green economy. This is important not just for the future of Seattle, but for our country and planet. We must counter the Trump Administration’s anti-science, climate change-denying and pro-carbon agenda. Seattle has always had a special connection to our water, mountains and environment. We will not stand by as the Administration seeks to undermine the EPA and dismantle hard-fought protections for our water and air, cities and local governments must stand up to protect our environment.
As Mayor, I will be an outspoken champion for the environment, taking Seattle’s leadership on climate solutions and the clean energy economy to the next level. I will work with our community and the environmental leaders and organizations to ensure that the environmental solutions Seattle pursues are consistent with our social justice and equity values, and that the benefits are shared by those in the most need. I will stand up for our local parks, natural areas, trails and playfields, maintaining and expanding them so our diverse, growing population can reap the health benefits of getting outside to play in all parts of our great city.
Working for President Obama, I’ve been on the front lines fighting for clean air and water and for protecting our endangered species and our forests, prosecuting those who illegally dumped waste into our waters, cut down old growth trees, and unlawfully harvested scarce resources. I’ve also worked hard to bring people from diverse backgrounds together to find solutions to complex challenges (as was necessary with the police reform consent decree.)
Our environmental agenda will be successful only if it is rooted in equity and community engagement. The impacts of climate change and pollution are often felt hardest by those who have the least power and resources. In Seattle, residents living in the Duwamish river basin and along major transportation corridors face higher air pollution from diesel emissions, higher toxicity impacts from industrial operations and growing impacts of sea-level rise to the storm water drainage systems.
I am deeply committed to ensuring that the people most impacted by environmental degradation are included in crafting durable and just solutions. As Mayor, I will work to make sure that lower income families and people of color have access to programs designed to improve our carbon footprint (e.g., electric cars, energy efficiency retrofits), as well as a pathway to the new green jobs created by investments in the clean energy economy. I will work with Sound Transit and Metro to ensure that our investments in mass transit are also creating a more equitable city especially for working families and people of color who are hit disproportionately by the increasing cost of transportation.
Seattle is a city that leads. We believe in science. We hold dear the beauty, accessibility, and economic value of our natural environment, from the Sound to the mountains. We know that protecting the environment — including fighting climate change, embracing sustainability, innovating on clean energy, protecting our air and water quality — isn’t just a moral imperative, but it is good economic policy. The region that leads on these issues is going to be a winner economically. We are already known globally as a laboratory for innovative technologies and for our strong environmental ethic. I am committed to leveraging this public spirit along with public and private sector initiatives to accelerate our transformation into a model resilient city, including:
Aggressive Climate Action
Climate change is the overarching challenge for our time. Seattle residents are deeply supportive of climate action and we are ready to lead by example to reduce carbon emissions. We need to double our efforts if we want to meet Seattle’s target to reduce our City greenhouse gas emissions 58 percent below 2008 levels by 2030 and the goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. I support recent efforts to align Seattle with other prominent U.S. cities by committing to uphold the Paris Climate Accord. I will be an outspoken advocate for climate action locally, regionally, on the West Coast, and nationally. I will partner with other leaders to demonstrate we can and will act as a nation, despite our President’s positions. I will ensure that policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy are built in to policies across a wide range of policy initiatives and budget decisions.
In addition to the critical transportation improvements below, as Mayor, top climate actions include:
- Cut transportation emissions by accelerating the electrification of personal and fleet vehicles and rapidly increasing the publically available fast-charging stations; encouraging Metro to introduce battery-operated buses and move the remainder of the fleet away from diesel; and working with car-share and other private sector fleets to electrify their fleets.
- Increase energy efficiency in the built environment by creating new incentives to help homeowners with oil furnaces switch to electric heat pumps and exploring green-building incentives for developers.
- Expand rooftop solar at the residential, multi-family and commercial levels by directing Seattle City Light to develop a plan for financially sound solar investments in affordable housing developments, municipal buildings and other structures and by advocating at the state level for a robust program of solar incentives.
- Develop and incentivize more ways to increase building efficiency, and to re-use energy generated by activities such as data centers and manufacturing.
- Expedite planning for all transit oriented development, to create the equitable, vibrant climate friendly neighborhoods gathering places we want.
Expanding Transportation Options
Seattle’s transportation infrastructure has a major impact on the environment. In Washington State, 46% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Greening up our transportation system is essential. In addition to vehicle electrification, it is critically important provide more safe, efficient and well-connected transportation choices that make it easier and safer for Seattle residents and those who work or visit here to get around on foot, by bike and via mass transit.
As Mayor, I will work hard to ensure that our transportation projects, policies, and funding decisions reflect this multi-modal approach and provide strong leadership to:
- Accelerate light rail expansion by working with Sound Transit to expedite the planning, design, and delivery of services like the Ballard to West Seattle line while ensuring extensive and integral community involvement in the process.
- Improve bus service by working with Metro to explore options for making bus fare free for all young people under 18 years old and for increasing bus service hours in Seattle to better serve late-night workers who tend to make lower wages.
- Effectively implement and improve the Bicycle Master Plan and the Center City Bicycle Network by convening key partners from the advocacy community, local neighborhoods and businesses. Safety is critical.
- Ensure adequate resources are dedicated to needed upgrades to sidewalks in underserved communities, provide sidewalks that have been promised for decades, increase handicap ramp improvements, crosswalk striping and lighting, and make busy streets and intersections safer for everyone.
(Please read my entire Transportation agenda here.)
— Jenny Durkan