Over the next two years, Seattle will incentivize public and private companies to electrify their vehicles, encourage more pedestrian, cyclist and transit drivers, and potentially propose charges for driving in certain parts of the city to reduce congestion.
According to the “Clean Transportation Electrification Blueprint”, all hail trips would be electric and emission-free by 2030. Almost a third of the shipments would be made with zero-carbon vehicles. A “main area” of Seattle would be limited to most cars. and charging stations would be reliable and readily available across the city.
These are Seattle’s ambitious goals for an electrified transportation system that will reduce CO2 emissions and dependence on fossil fuels within the decade. This is foreseen as part of a series of goals released on Wednesday.
The city hopes to achieve these goals through tools that may include the introduction of legislation at the city and state levels. Approval of existing, progressive climate proposals; Commitment to community groups; Asking voters to directly approve election initiatives; and developing partnerships with employers to drive initiatives and create jobs, said Andrea Pratt, a climate and transport policy advisor in the city.
These aspirations, however, depend on politically-minded values at all levels of government and working with corporations hostile to city regulations. The promises are also wider than the goals of the past, even though Seattle failed to meet the goals of the past.
Earlier climate goals of other administrations were not successful.
During his tenure, Mayor Greg Nickels signed Seattle to the Kyoto Treaty and pledged to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. That goal was not met, however, and by 2016 Seattle was still emitting more carbon than the city had in 1990.
Last year, King County’s executive Dow Constantine proposed cutting the county’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and cutting them by 80% by 2050 – even if the county failed to meet its interim targets set in its previous comprehensive climate plan.
Six municipal departments, including the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Seattle City Light, and the Office of Sustainability & Environment, elaborated the goals with the involvement of environmental justice groups and groups representing color communities.
No cost estimates associated with the effort are included in this plan. However, the city would look into the budget’s impact on any proposal across the board, Pratt said. As with other self-imposed transportation goals, such as an obligation to eliminate traffic-related serious injuries and deaths, success depends on aggressive policies and a shared vision among administrations.
These goals build on the Seattle Green New Deal, which aims to eliminate climate pollution from the city by 2030, eradicate environmental inequalities and create thousands of green, unionized jobs, following earlier efforts to combat climate change.
In recent years, Seattle has increased transit spending, expanded the network of bike lanes, and welcomed fleets of rental bikes and scooters.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, which saw the number of transit drivers plummeting, Seattle voters approved a sales tax measure in November to maintain frequent bus services, shuttles and free student fares. The city also closed more than 20 miles of residential streets to most vehicle traffic and opened them up to people walking or cycling, a precursor to potentially major closings.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has also promised to collect a fee for drivers entering downtown.
That plan was put on hold during the pandemic as the city met with justice and environmental justice advisory groups on details of a plan, said Kristin Brown, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Sustainability and Environment.
Other transit agencies in Washington are also working on climate-focused efforts.
Washington State Ferries plans to switch its Wenatchee ship from diesel-only to hybrid / electric power later this year and begin cruises between Seattle and Bainbridge Island in the summer of 2022, agency spokesman Ian Sterling said.
King County Metro has pledged to make its fleet of 1,500 buses carbon-free by 2040 when older buses are replaced – “or sooner, depending on technology and capital projects,” said Al Sanders, a spokesman for Metro. One hundred and seventy-four zero-emission electric buses are already operating in Seattle.
Despite these time differences, according to Pratt, all agencies are striving to be CO2 neutral by 2050.
She referred to the ongoing efforts under the plan package to achieve these goals.
Following a standard clean fuel proposal moving through state legislation, Washington would incentivize companies to develop transportation fuels that emit fewer greenhouse gases. House Bill 1091 has passed the State House of Representatives and is under consideration in the Senate.
Transport network companies Uber and Lyft are also on board the targets that require 100% of bicycles, scooters and moving cars to be electric and emission-free by 2030.
“We support the city’s goal and have previously committed to becoming an emissions-free platform in the US by 2030,” said Harry Hartfield, a spokesman for Uber.
Last year, Lyft pledged to only use electric vehicles on its platform by 2030.
“We look forward to engaging the city of Seattle to share ideas on how to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and advance the fight against climate change,” said Allison Goodman, spokeswoman for Lyft.