These are the policies we are currently working on for the local level, city and regional policies.
- Electrification of municipal fleets
State law requires electrification of municipal fleets but allows them to be phased in and allows waivers. Early action by Seattle and King County area agencies would provide significant leadership and evidence for other public agencies and for private vehicle fleets. It will be difficult to do for some types of vehicles, but addressing that challenge will break trail for others to follow. Using information being developed by the State, the plans should detail when vehicles will be replaced, what charging infrastructure will be needed and when it can be installed, and what funding and revenue sources will be required.
- Accelerate planning in 2020 for elimination of GHG emissions from public buildings
We call on all local governments to prepare plans and to provide funds for the timely conversion of existing municipal buildings to the new building codes, including conversion from the use of fossil fuels to electric heating. While the conversion of existing buildings to electric heat is expensive, existing buildings will be the primary source of building Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the foreseeable future. The City cannot require private building conversion unless it shows that it is determined to do the same..
- Enact strict new building codes for new buildings to increase efficiency and eliminate use of natural gas
Buildings heated with natural gas make significant contributions to Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Seattle. Ending the use of fossil fuels means converting the heating of buildings to efficient electric heating. This requires energy efficient building construction. Careful studies have shown that even with the partial fossil fuel supply of electricity in the Puget Sound Energy service area, conversion to electric heating will be a significant gain for greenhouse gas emission reduction.
- Establish dedicated progressive revenues to fund Greenhouse Gas Emission reduction initiatives
Climate change is an enormous problem and will take an enormous amount of money to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to safe levels. Washington has the most regressive tax system in the United States. Therefore, a progressive tax is needed to get revenue from sources that have the ability to pay the tax. Given COVID19 (the coronavirus pandemic), Morales and Sawant are now proposing to impose a progressive business tax beginning June 1, 2020. In 2020, the funds would be dedicated to providing emergency cash assistance for up to 100,000 low-income households, including those that have lost income as a result of the pandemic. Beginning in 2021, the taxes raised would be applied to investments in affordable social housing and Green New Deal investments, which would also be a jobs program.
- Establish Council select committee to develop comprehensive policies for GHG emission reductions
The incredible importance of climate change for the Council and the City (and the world) justify the creation now of a select committee, chaired, if possible, by the Council President. A select committee will underscore the central priority the Council and the City give to addressing climate change. Having at least 4 different council committees (Transport/Utilities, Housing/Finance, Land Use and Sustainability) addressing pieces of a comprehensive strategy, establishing priorities and bringing them separately to the full council will be very difficult for the public to track and is unlikely to produce a coherent set of priorities. Regular committees would still have a role in the initial review of executive recommendations and the development of committee recommendations for consideration by the select committee. Seattle should be a national model.
- Provide adequate funding in the 2020-21 budgets to staff the planning for GHG emission reduction
The planning, continuous assessment and achievement of GHG emission reduction goals will not be possible without adequate staff at each stage of the process.
The following items are waiting on specific proposals from SDOT; will be reviewed for possible endorsement when available.
- Equitable congestion pricing.
The objective of congestion pricing is to reduce private auto use making private drivers conscious of the costs that they impose on one another and the negative external costs they create on the environment and the climate. CP’s can take various forms; under consideration in Seattle are a “cordon line” which charges a fee to enter the city center and an “area wide” zone which involves a daily fee for any vehicle driving in a public road within the congestion charge zone. European cities including London, Rome, Stockholm and Milan have adopted congestion pricing. New York City has passed a plan for congestion pricing to be implemented 2022. Initial reports from the cities that have implemented congestion pricing schemes show traffic volume reductions from 10% to 30%,as well as reduced air pollution. CP raises significant concerns regarding local equity impacts, particularly for low-income individuals who need to drive their cars into the central city. Pricing should be structured to the extent feasible to reduce those impacts. However, CP should not be blocked because of equity concerns; climate change itself will have disproportionate, long-term equity impacts – locally, nationally and globally.
One of the important benefits of congestion pricing is that it can raise significant revenues to help pay for climate change priorities. Revenues can be used to subsidize transit fares and to make transit more available for communities who are currently not well served by transit.
- Dedicated bus lanes
Most of Seattle’s transit is provided by buses. A bus cannot run on time when it is stuck in traffic, and people cannot use transit if it does not provide fast and reliable service. This is also an equity question when there are a lot of people needing to use the road: a bus carrying 60 people takes up the same road space as three single occupancy vehicles. There will be public opposition to some of these bus-only lanes from people who are currently using them for their personal vehicles or who are dependent on them for parking, and this change will require support in order to be successful.