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.

More in News

Dane Scarimbolo and Dominique Torgerson run Four Horsemen Brewery in Kent. They were almost shut down in late 2017 by King County, which after years of letting them operate a brewery and taproom, decided they were in violation of county code. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Proposed winery ordinance irks King County farmers, neighbors and businesses

Concerns include more traffic, higher land prices, code enforcement and compliance.

Balducci runs against Hirt for District 6 county council seat

The former Bellevue mayor is essentially running unopposed.

Courtesy photos
                                From left, Tracey Yeager Blackburn and Tim Harris compete for Carnation City Council Position 3 in the General Election.
Carnation candidates vying for seat

Harris and Yeager Blackburn both hope for city council Position 3.

Natalie DeFord/Staff photo
                                A group tours the facilities at Allegion (Technical Glass Products) during the company’s Manufacturing Day event. From left, Snoqualmie city administrator Bob Larson, Casey Duff from Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office, production manager Dave Jensen, Mount Si High School senior Dylan Van Vleet, Mount Si teacher Gregg Meyers.
Local students take Manufacturing Day tour

Panel discussed life in a manufacturing career.

Photo courtesy of King County Executive Office
                                King County Executive Dow Constantine announces the new Creative Economy Initiative in September.
New Creative Economy initiative will promote film production in King County

KC Executive Dow Constantine announced it at Twede’s Cafe in North Bend.

Armstrong and Ross in the race for Snoqualmie City Council Pos. 2

Candidates touch on growth and transparency.

Photos courtesy of candidates
                                Incumbent Eric Hollis and Brandon Bothwell are running for a spot on Fire District 27.
Candidates for Fire District 27 talk on the failed merger

Incumbent Eric Hollis and candidate Brandon Bothwell seek Pos. 2.

Klahn and Correira seek Si View Metropolitan Park District Position 2

Commissioner candidates answer Record’s questionnaire.

Natalie DeFord/Staff photo
                                A summertime view of Snoqualmie Falls from the lower viewpoint, which is now closed for the off-season for maintenance. Other parts of the park will remain open.
Snoqualmie Falls closes boardwalk to park’s lower viewpoint

Off-season maintenance underway, other parts of the park remain open.

Most Read