Stepping Up Climate Protection Activities by America's Cities


On February 16, 2005, the Kyoto Protocol took effect in the 141 countries that ratified it, which did not include the United States. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels decided that if our national leaders would not sign on, perhaps American cities could take action on their own. He issued a challenge to other U.S. mayors to join Seattle in taking local action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce global warming.


It was essential to create a national movement to get enough cities to sign on to have an impact. To do so, there needed to be national media strategy, an outreach strategy to U.S. mayors, and a web-based portal for cities to get technical assistance for their carbon reduction efforts.


Bichsel and a team of experts working for Nickels built a plan that surpassed its goals and helped raise awareness of Nickels' work nationally. Specifically:
  • More than 1,000 mayors from cities and towns in all 50 states signed the agreement,
  • The effort attracted scores of stories in national and international media,
  • It led to the creation of a U.S. Conference of Mayor's Climate Protection Center.
  • Nickels leadership was noted among his peers as he was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors,
  • Nickels won several national awards for his work enlisting other cities to sign the Kyoto Protocol, including the 2006 Climate Protection Award from the Environmental Protection Agency, the 2006 Edgar Wayburn Award for Environmental leadership from the National Sierra Club, and the 2006 National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation.

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