Feb. 9, 2009
New Climate Report shows King County is reducing greenhouse gas
Goal is to better prepare for local impacts of climate change
King County government is delivering green job training opportunities and numerous county initiatives that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the county’s second annual Climate Report.
The Climate Report shows that in 2007, King County reduced its carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by more than 6 percent below year 2000 levels, as measured by the Chicago Climate Change (CCX), and well beyond the 1.5 percent reduction target set as part of the county’s membership in the CCX.
The document is a progress report on implementation of King County’s 2007 Climate Plan and countywide actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from county operations and regional activities. The Climate Report also details county efforts to anticipate and adapt to climate change impacts – work that is the result of more than 15 years of preparation for regional climate change impacts.
King County and its Metro Transit division were the first county and the first major bus transit agency in the United States to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, a voluntary greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade market. Besides acting as a model for other governments and businesses, the county joined the exchange to support the development of a market based greenhouse gas emissions reduction system, to ensure that the county is prepared for a future in which carbon is regulated, and to save taxpayer dollars through implementation of energy and fuel savings measures across its numerous operations.
Other county activities toward this goal include supporting and providing climate-friendly transportation choices, such as the addition of 22 more hybrid-articulated buses to the Metro Transit bus fleet and over 108,000 hours of new transit service since 2006 through the Transit Now! initiative, which connects high-density communities to new streamlined bus routes.
The transit improvements and aggressive implementation of energy savings and greenhouse gas reduction measures throughout the government helped reduce the county’s direct green house gas emissions, as audited by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, from 169,900 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2000 to 159,600 metric tons in 2007; this significant reduction is equivalent to avoiding the annual emissions of more than 2,000 Washington drivers.
The King County Department of Natural Resources and Park’s Wastewater Treatment Division also helped achieve greenhouse gas reductions by cutting its emissions and expenditures on diesel fuel by 145,000 gallons through phasing in more efficient, higher capacity hauling trucks. In a related effort, the Department of Transportation’s Metro Transit Division purchased more than 1.5 million gallons of 100 percent biodiesel, primarily for use in the bus fleet. The associated emissions reductions occurred over a seven-year period when there was significant expansion of many county services, including a large increase in transit service.
The Climate Report also describes the climate-related benefits of King County’s equitable green economic development projects, such as the Opportunity Greenway pilot, rolled out in conjunction with the King County Equity and Social Justice Initiative. The program offers court-involved young adults the chance to learn about high wage and high demand “green” careers during three six-week educational internship programs operated through King County Work Training’s YouthSource. It will be continued and expanded to new locations in summer 2009.
Finally, the report addresses regional impacts from climate change, ranging from decreased mountain snowpack to sea level rise to increased flood severity, which are affecting diverse parts of King County’s built and natural environments. These changes are resulting in adverse impacts to critical areas such as local infrastructure, agriculture, salmon, forests, and recreation and have the potential to become much worse. By incorporating projections about these changes into planning now, King County is preparing for a resilient future.
For more information about these initiatives, and to learn how you can reduce your climate change impact, please visit: http://www.kingcounty.gov/exec/globalwarming/.