All nine City Council members have vowed to pursue a “Green New Deal” for Seattle that a number of community and environmental groups are pushing for.
The council members signed a support letter Monday but haven’t yet worked out what particular policies they may pursue.
The local Green New Deal campaign is calling on City Hall to eliminate Seattle’s climate pollution by 2030, “address historical and current injustices” and create thousands of green, unionized jobs.
Dozens of activists gathered outside Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office last week to launch the campaign and dozens showed up again Monday, describing the pledge championed by Councilmember Mike O’Brien and affirmed by his colleagues as a first step.
“Let’s be a leader in policymaking,” said Rachel Heaton, a Muckleshoot tribal member. “Let’s make those drastic changes and the changes that need to happen.”
In a letter to Durkan and the council, the campaign led by South Seattle-based nonprofit Got Green and environmental organization 350 Seattle said all city departments should be trying to reduce climate pollution.
Free transit should be provided in all neighborhoods and buildings should be converted to electric heat, according to the campaign, which has been endorsed by some unions and by community groups such as El Centro de la Raza.
To pay for such sweeping changes, the campaign said City Hall should consider adopting a climate-emergency tax on large businesses, tolling downtown streets, putting a climate-emergency levy on the ballot and redirecting money now spent on other initiatives.
The campaign said Seattle should create by 2020 a special panel to guide its Green New Deal investments.
“Climate change threatens everything we love,” Got Green organizer Jonathan Fikru told the council.
The local campaign is echoing the national Green New Deal, a rough plan backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while creating high-wage jobs and promoting social equity.
Residents in lower-income Seattle neighborhoods with more pollution, like South Park and Georgetown, live shorter lives on average than those in wealthy neighborhoods, the campaign has noted.
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes stood with activists Monday to update them on legal action against fossil-fuel companies based on the industry’s contributions to climate change.
More than a dozen American cities, states and counties have sued, and an appeals-court ruling is expected next year in a case brought by San Francisco and Oakland, Holmes said.
His office is waiting to see what happens in that case before moving ahead with a Seattle lawsuit, he said.