SEATTLE (Sept. 19, 2016)—The Seattle City Council is expected to pass legislation today that requires staff to develop a plan to cut the city’s oil use in half by 2035. Seattle is rising to a challenge that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) set for the entire country a few years ago, demonstrating that it could be accomplished with the right policies in place.
More recently, in January, UCS released a report that showed Washington state could cut in-state oil use in half by expanding clean transportation options and focusing on the deployment of low carbon fuels, improved vehicle efficiency and transportation electrification. With current policies in place, Washington is expected to reduce oil consumption 8 percent by 2030.
While the state has yet to tackle oil consumption head on, Washington’s largest city will take on the issue with a plan that UCS says should be a model for other cities.
“There are multiple reasons to reduce how much oil we use, including reducing pollution, addressing climate change and protecting consumers from volatile gas prices,” said Don Anair, research and deputy director for the Clean Vehicles program at UCS. “We’ve laid out a practical, feasible strategy to get there, which includes doubling the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks, getting more electric vehicles on the road, boosting our use of low-carbon fuels, implementing smart land-use policies and increasing investment in transit.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s plan includes the right strategies for cutting oil use, according to UCS. It calls for cutting emissions from municipal fleets in half by 2025; setting a 30 percent target for electrification of personal light-duty vehicles registered in the city by 2030; investing in infrastructure to make sure drivers can reliably charge electric vehicles; adjusting building and zoning codes to support a lower-emissions transportation system; and laying out strategies to make sure low-income and disadvantaged communities will benefit from the changes.
“This is a real victory for Seattle’s future,” said Adrienne Alvord, Western states director at UCS. “Seattle’s leadership should set an example for cities around the country. If implemented nationwide, we could save 11 million barrels of oil every day in 2035. We can, and must, reduce our oil use—our health and our climate depend on it.”