Last Wednesday, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter joined 279 other mayors throughout the nation in signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement resulted from Seattle Mayor Gregory Nickels’ 2005 challenge to mayors across the country to join Seattle in taking local action to reduce pollution that contributes to global warming.
The goals that Bieter has set for the city of Boise are:
• Try to reduce greenhouse gases by 7 percent by 2012 from 1990 levels.
• Urge the state and federal governments to meet a similar goal.
• Advocate a federal emissions-trading program aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, so-called because such emissions build in the atmosphere and create a greenhouse effect that scientists say is warming the global climate.
Bieter will ask the council to authorize an emissions inventory for city operations and the entire community, to adopt an emission-reduction target and an action plan to meet it.
As anyone who has suffered through Boise inversions can attest, this is excellent news. It is, of course, a modest beginning. We don’t have to look farther than our neighbor to the west, Portland, Oregon, to see where we could be if we had made emission reduction a high priority a decade ago. As Nicholas Kristof pointed out in an article last year in the New York Times, “In 1993, Portland became the first local government in the United States to adopt a strategy to deal with climate change. The latest data show the results: Greenhouse gas emissions last year in Multnomah County, which includes Portland, dropped below the level of 1990, and per capita emissions were down 13 percent.” Here is hoping that Mayor Bieter adopts some of the extremely effective strategies piloted by Portland. Better late than never.