Councilmember O'Brien left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Carbon Neutrality Initiative launches website!

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This morning the Council received a briefing on the Carbon Neutrality Initiative and our website went live! It’s still a little bare-bones, but we hope it will grow and soon become the hub for communications for folks helping Seattle become a carbon neutral city. In the interim we have created a Facebook Fan Page  and you can also follow us on Twitter:

At the briefing, Meg Moorehead from Central Staff highlighted some of the work in the Council’s workplan, including some of the public events we’ve hosted such as Van Jones in May and a possible piece of legislation this fall.

Jill Simmons from the Office of Sustainability and Environment introduced Peter Erickson of the Stockholm Environment Institute, who is being hired for the number crunching and analytic work that will underpin our goals and policies.  One of their first deliverables will be a definition of carbon neutrality which includes answering the question – “where do we draw the lines?”  Are we talking about city government operations?  Or from all emissions occurring from activities in the city?  What about goods produced elsewhere but consumed in the city? The consultants will also be updating Seattle’s GHG inventory and preparing several carbon reduction scenarios based on various end dates (2030, 2050), as well as considering actions by other entities (e.g: potential federal climate change legislation).

We look forward to hearing their ideas on this topic – and engaging in a dialogue with the residents of Seattle in September to get to the answer.  This work will not be complete without active involvement from the residents of Seattle, and there are a number of groups working on specific issue areas. Representatives from a number of community groups joined the briefing, and they will be generating recommendations to be presented to the City Council on September 14th.  Here is a quick summary of their work to date:

Joshua Curtis, from Great City, presented a great white paper framework document the Land Use group developed a Carbon Neutrality White Paper Format that groups are using to pull together their ideas.

Gene Homicki from the Neighborhoods group talked about the survey the Neighborhoods group created and translated into five languages.  Take the survey here!

Stephanie Pure with the Seattle Branch of the American Institute of Architects coordinates the Energy group. She shared some of the principles they are using for their white paper, which includes recommendations about how to make Seattle a “clean energy exporter.” 

This Wednesday, a group of young people are meeting in City Hall to work on a youth engagement component for the Carbon Neutrality Initiative. If you know someone who would like to help shape recommendations to City Council or participate in a focus group, let us know.

Councilmember Rasmussen and I joined the Transportation group for a conversation at City Hall last week.  This group is working on recommendations which transcend politics (think it’s possible?) in order to tackle our city’s largest emission sector.

This is just a brief highlight, but there is much more work to be done. If you want to connect to these or any other groups – Food Systems, Zero Waste, Green Careers – let us know.  There is room for many more to participate.

Councilmember Conlin is also blogging about carbon neutrality.  Check out his weekly posts which will be linked to the website soon.

I’m glad to see that the City Council making progress on this priority and I encourage you to keep us posted on what else you think we should be doing.  I’m looking forward to hearing all of your recommendations at the September 14th event.


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Comment from Joe Brewer
Time July 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Thank you for bringing this process out into the light.

I’ve been in the middle of the carbon neutral effort from the beginning (and hosted a major event back in March where we began building tools for cross-sector collaboration around the key idea of creating an “innovation engine” for driving the process across time). It was very frustrating that the committees were formed in secret and there has essentially been no outward communication for months. Even though I was centrally involved in the effort – and continue to be – there was no way for me to get involved because of the communication blackout.

Please have someone from O’Brien’s office contact me to schedule a meeting so that I can deliver the tools and engaged communities to this effort effectively. We’re going to need a lot more collaboration and innovative thinking to advance the ball on this ambitious and noble goal!


Joe Brewer
Founder, Seattle Innovators
Director, Cognitive Policy Works

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