King County is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, but emissions also have not been rising with population growth. File photo

King County is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, but emissions also have not been rising with population growth. File photo

King County isn’t on track to meet emissions goals

The goals were ambitious but progress has been slow.

King County is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, but emissions also have not been rising with population growth.

The King County Council was updated on the Climate Action Plan, which was approved in 2015. It set goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the county compared to a 2007 baseline by 25 percent in 2020, 50 percent in 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. As of 2017, the county had only reduced its emissions from 2008 by around 1.4 percent.

However, since 2008, the total greenhouse gas emissions in the county has only dropped by about 300,000 metric tons in 2017. In 2017, there were still more than 20 million metric tons of CO2 being emitted in King County. At the same time, the county’s population increased by 16 percent, reaching more than 2.18 million people. Per person greenhouse gas emissions had dropped 11 percent.

County staff said this was important, because it marked a disconnect between increasing population and emissions, but the county is still not on target to meet its goals. Population growth and commercial development were cited as the biggest reasons for increasing emissions. Those were offset by vehicle fuel efficiency standards, people making less car trips and building and industrial energy efficiency.

Megan Smith, the county’s director of climate and energy initiatives, said one area where they had found success was in getting Puget Sound Energy to agree to start a Green Direct program. So far eight cities have opted in, and will be buying entirely clean energy from the utility.

Other legislative goals that have been adopted at the county and state level include strengthening building energy codes, protecting vehicle efficiency standards, phasing out hydrofluorocarbons and the recently passed state law mandating the electric grid use 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

However, those actions alone still won’t put the county on track to meet its 2030 climate target. While the county can make changes to its own operations, like upgrading Metro buses to run on electricity, it relies on cities to help implement their own emissions reductions strategies.

According to a 2017 countywide greenhouse gas emissions analysis, the largest sources of emissions were from the built environment at 62 percent. That was largely from emissions from residential and commercial energy uses. Some 36 percent was from transportation and other mobile sources. Agriculture and solid waste accounted for 1 percent each.

The Washington state Legislature passed legislation this year mandating that the state’s power grid be carbon-free by 2045. It mandates that by 2022, utilities have to develop rolling four-year plans to meet the carbon targets and utilities will be penalized $100 for every megawatt-hour used to meet power loads.

The county will update its strategic climate action plan by the end of June 2020 that will finish outlining the county’s plan for the following five years. Three workshops are also planned, including at 10 a.m. Oct. 12 at the University of Washington and at 6 p.m. Oct. 16 at Highline College.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Photo of promotional recruitment banner used by Auburn Police Department at Petpalooza. The banner features Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson, who is awaiting trial for the 2019 murder and assault of Jesse Sarey. Photo courtesy of Jeff Trimble
Auburn police use photo of embattled officer on recruitment banner

Families of people killed by Jeffrey Nelson, who’s awaiting trial for murder, speak out over use of his photo at Petpalooza.

T
Use your King County library card to explore the outdoors

KCLS cardholders can check out a Discover Pass for two weeks to explore public lands.

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
King County identifies first presumptive monkeypox case

The illness is not as easily transmitted compared to COVID-19, according to health officer.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

t
Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.