04 August 2006

Seattle's green mayor brings Kyoto home

By Mary Milliken and Daisuke Wakabayashi

SEATTLE (Reuters) - On the frontier of the fight against global warming, the mayor of Seattle boldly goes where the president will not -- right to America's backyards.

As the mayor spearheading a drive to get U.S. cities to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Greg Nickels is proposing a host of "green" initiatives, like urging Seattle dwellers to build rental units in their backyards to stem city sprawl and get people to live closer to downtown.

"We have lots of jobs downtown and we want to balance that with having a lot of new residents so that people are literally walking to work," Nickels told Reuters in an interview this week in his energy-efficient City Hall overlooking Puget Sound.

Nickels is the mayor who first urged U.S. cities to adhere to the targets of the Kyoto Protocol, the 164-nation agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the treaty in 2001.

One year after launching the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, Nickels said 275 mayors representing 48 million Americans had promised to cut their heat-trapping gas emissions 7 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.

While recognizing that there is really no way to enforce the pledges, Nickels said the cities -- like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas and even some smaller ones like Denton, Texas -- are working to share their best ideas.

"We will come up with a menu of things that other cities and states and ultimately the country can use as a menu for how we achieve this goal," he said.

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