King County climate change policy
History of Climate Action
King County’s focus on addressing climate change was jumpstarted on October 27, 2005, when King County collaborated with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group to sponsor a major conference on regional climate change impacts. Former Executive Ron Sims then launched his "Acting Locally" initiative for global warming preparedness, and issued Executive Orders 7-5 through 7-8, which directed production of the 2007 Climate Plan (1.1MB PDF - March 2006).
In October 2006, the King County Council passed Motion 12362, which mandated that King County departments and the King County Executive submit a Global Warming Mitigation and Preparedness Plan to the Council on February 1, 2007, as well as an annual report in each subsequent year.
Motion 12362 requires specific actions to be taken in the following areas: emissions inventories, greenhouse gas reduction targets, land use, environmental management, emergency preparedness, energy use and transportation. Since these initial policies, the King County Council have has passed additional climate change related legislation.
Key related strategies and policies relate to the Chicago Climate Exchange Ordinance, the creation of a Flood Control District, and the Green Building and Sustainable Development Policy.
2008 King County Comprehensive Plan
The 2008 King County Comprehensive Plan included climate change as one of three new framework policies guiding the entire plan. Policy FW-102 states that "King County will be a leader in prevention and mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change effects." This overarching policy is carried through the rest of the comprehensive plan, including the following goals:
Reducing Climate Pollution:
Preparing for the Impacts of Climate Change:
- Recommends that the County collaborate with other local governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region to 80% below 2007 levels by 2050 (Policy E-216)
- Establishes a goal of reducing County government GHG emissions by 6% below 2000 levels by 2010 (Policy E-204)
- Recommends that the County incorporate climate change considerations into County plans, programs and projects and collaborate with others to raise awareness (Policies E-210 through E-215)
2010 King County Strategic Plan
In July 2010 the King County Council unanimously approved legislation adopting the “King County Strategic Plan, 2010–2014: Working Together for One King County.” The plan was created with input from thousands of residents and county employees over a period of 18 months and was developed in collaboration with council and the county’s separately elected officials. It is a key tool in the Executive’s work to reform county government by focusing on customer service, partnerships and ways to bring down the cost of government.
Environmental Sustainability is one of the Strategic Plan’s eight focus areas. To safeguard and enhance King County’s natural resources and environment, the strategic plan sets four objectives. The two objectives most related to the County’s climate response efforts are to:
- Reduce climate pollution and prepare for the effects of climate change on the environment, human health and the economy
- Minimize King County’s operational environmental footprint
Learn more or download the plan (1MB PDF).
2010 King County Energy Plan
In October 2010 the King County Energy Plan was adopted by the King County Council. The Energy Plan is a detailed roadmap to achieve goals and objectives outlined in the 2010 King County Strategic Plan, builds on the County’s past efforts to improve energy efficiency, and advances the use and production of renewable and greenhouse gas-neutral energy. Learn more or download the plan (580KB PDF).
Related Local, Regional, and State Policy
King County policies fit into a broader context of climate change action. More than one thousand Mayors, including 19 of the 39 cities in King County, and more than 40 U.S. Counties have made strong commitments to respond to climate change through the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and the Cool Counties Initiative.
At the Washington State level, the last several years have included adoption of several important policies, including new Washington State law that requires that by 2020, Washington State reduce overall emissions of GHGs to 1990 levels and that by 2050, emissions are reduced to 50% below 1990 levels. Finally, at the federal and international levels, there are renewed efforts to pass policy aimed at addressing human caused climate change.