US direct action: How American cities have bypassed Bush on Kyoto
Friday 01 September 2006
It is not just the state of California that is bypassing the authority of the US government to take action on global warming.
The mayors of more than 300 cities across the country have signed a Climate Protection Agreement in which they have pledged to meet the emissions-cutting timetable laid down by the Kyoto Protocol - regardless of what the Bush administration decides.
Some of those cities, such as Seattle, which took the lead on drafting and lobbying for the agreement, are bastions of liberal politics and environmentalism, acting out their ideological convictions. Others, though, such as the exclusive Colorado ski resorts Vail and Aspen, are also motivated by a powerful self-interest. If global warming continues unabated, the Rocky Mountain snowpack will melt and there will be no skiing in Vail, Aspen or anywhere else by the end of this century.
Seattle's Mayor, Greg Nickels, proposed the mayors' agreement whenKyoto came into effect at the start of last year. By June 2005, he had 140 signatories, and the number has more than doubled since.
The goal is to "meet or exceed" the Kyoto target of cutting global warming pollution to 7 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The agreement also contains a 12-point action plan, urging signatory cities to discourage sprawl, promote public transport, car-pooling and bicycle lanes, turn to alternative energy sources including alternative fuels for the municipal vehicle and bus fleet, plant lots of trees and introduce environmental education programmes in schools and community colleges.
Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest, is the perfect poster-child for many of these initiatives, since it sits between two heavily forested mountain ranges and is surrounded by water. Despite a long history of environmentalism and commitment to public transport, it has been struggling with smog problems in recent years because of heavy car commuter traffic from the ever-expanding suburbs.
The Colorado ski resorts, meanwhile, have taken robust action to convert to renewable energy to power their ski lifts, shops, hotels and administrative buildings.
Vail just signed a deal to buy more than 150,000 megawatt-hours of wind power per year - the greenhouse gas-saving equivalent of taking 18,000 cars off the roads. Aspen, meanwhile, commissioned a study in April that revealed the severe damage done to the environment by private jets landing at its airport. It is now working to curtail air traffic.
Aspen's top city lawyer, John Worcester, described the city earlier this year as the global-warming equivalent of "the canary in the miner's cage". "It is incumbent on all of us," he said, "to face the potential threat upon our economy and way of life as we would any other potential threat".
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Church of England threatens to cease BP and Shell investments over climate concerns
Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind
Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim
Prince William attacks China over 'ignorant craving' for ivory
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...