Seattle, WA Clean Green Fleets Action Plan

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Seattle, WA, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Updated in 2007

Source File:


An Updated Action Plan for the City of Seattle

In 2002, Mayor Nickels released his Environmental Action Agenda that included a number of green fleet activities. As part of this agenda, in 2003, the City of Seattle (City) created an action plan to “green” the City’s fleet. That plan, which is available here, detailed several reasons for improving the City’s fleet. For example, a 2002 EPA study showed the City and King County to be in the top five percentile in the US for concentrations of hazardous air toxics. In addition, a study by the City’s Office of Sustainability and Environment identified the transportation sector as the source of more than half of the area’s greenhouse gas emissions. The City’s fleet represents a small part of this sector, but the action plan represented a good start at reducing the impacts from the City’s fleet and showing leadership in green fleet operation. The original plan, however, was only a first step in making the City’s fleet more environmentally friendly. More remained to be done. Plus, the City’s focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has only grown since the original action plan was drafted.

Concerned with the local impacts of global climate disruption on city electricity and drinking water supplies and the lack of federal action on the issue, on February 16, 2005 – the day that Kyoto went into effect in 141 countries around the world – Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels challenged the local community and mayors around the country to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. Mayor Nickels appointed the Green Ribbon Commission on Climate Protection to develop recommendations for reducing GHG emissions. In addition, Mayor Nickels launched the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which, by December 2006, had been signed by more than 350 mayors, representing 54 million Americans in 49 states.

In March 2006, the Mayor’s Green Ribbon Commission delivered its report, featuring 18 recommendations for meeting or beating the Kyoto target of a 7% reduction by 2012, compared to 1990 levels. For Seattle, this means reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate-disrupting greenhouse gases by about 680,000 metric tons, which is roughly the GHGs produced by 147,000 cars in one year. The Mayor then released the Seattle Climate Action Plan, detailing a strategy for implementing the Commission’s recommendations and meeting the Kyoto target in ways that also improve public health, enhance quality of life and bolster economic vitality. The Plan is available here ( Because of the sector’s large contribution to GHG emissions, transportation is a considerable focus of the Climate Action Plan.

This update represents one piece of the larger effort described in the Climate Action Plan to reduce GHG emissions from transportation. It describes steps the City will take to reduce GHG emissions from its fleet of vehicles. In simplest terms, reducing the use of petroleum fuels, replacing petroleum fuels with renewable alternatives and maximizing the efficiency of use of petroleum fuels all represent ways to reduce the GHG emissions from vehicles so all of these options are pursued in this update. Beyond this, the update serves as an example for businesses and individuals in the area. The City cannot meet the targets of the Climate Action Plan by itself. Support from the City’s businesses and residents will be required. Thus, by developing and implementing this update, the City exhibits leadership and demonstrates a model of what can be done to reduce GHGs from vehicles.

This updated Clean and Green Fleet Action Plan follows from the City’s 2003 original plan and Mayor Nickels’ 2002 Environmental Action Agenda. The plan describes how well the City did against the performance measures of the original plan, the new performance measures identified for the City’s fleet and a brief description of next steps. As in the original plan, it remains the City’s long-term goal to have a fleet that is 100% clean and green, which the City defines as using clean fuels and vehicles that are the most fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles and equipment available that meet the business needs of the City. This definition is fluid to account for the fact that technology changes often as does the City’s use of vehicles and equipment. Thus, pursuing this goal will be a continuous and evolving process and this update represents another step towards the goal.

(To read more about this plan, refer to the source file.)