Executive Constantine transmitted a motion to the Metropolitan King County Council today that will focus King County’s near-term efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through changes in county operations and climate-friendly land use, transportation and health policies.
Executive Constantine transmitted a motion to the Metropolitan King County Council today that will focus King County's near-term efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through changes in county operations and climate-friendly land use, transportation and health policies. The motion also guides county efforts to prepare for climate impacts on the environment, human health and economy.
"Our health, ecosystem and economic future are all at risk. Goals, alone, won't get us to real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We need to commit to specific actions and measure our progress," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "I also want to inspire and support actions that individuals, businesses and cities can take to create real progress toward long-term climate change and sustainability goals," he added.
Decreased mountain snowpack and warmer temperatures have already been observed in Western Washington as a result of climate change. Increased flood risks, negative impacts on fish and forests, and public health challenges are projected in the coming decades.
King County is already taking a number of steps to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and prepare for climate change. These include:
- Retrofitting county buildings to save energy and operating costs. Recent retrofits to the King County Courthouse alone are saving $ 424,000 in energy costs every year.
- Replacing diesel buses with hybrid-electric buses. County investments in improving energy efficiency in our buildings and buses are saving taxpayer dollars. Replacement of diesel buses with hybrids is saving the county more than $4 million a year on fuel and eliminating 18,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Capturing "waste" energy from sewage treatment and waste disposal and using it to power our facilities and provide a source of renewable energy to utilities. A public-private partnership to capture methane gas from the county's landfill will power the equivalent of 24,000 homes and generate a million dollars a year in revenue.
- Collaborating with cities to focus growth in urban centers and link planning for land use, transportation, and economic development.
- Preparing for the impacts of climate change on roads, bridges, and other essential services.
The proposed legislation builds on the recently adopted King County Energy Plan and sets the stage for upcoming work to update the county's comprehensive land use plan. The motion directs continued efforts to link transportation and land use planning, seek federal funds to extend RapidRide lines, improve efficiency of county buildings and vehicles, account for emissions through the The Climate Registry, protect essential infrastructure from climate change impacts, and work with cities to develop a countywide target for emissions reduction.
The motion must be approved by the King County Council. For more information about King County and climate change, visit http://www.kingcounty.gov/climate.