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King County conducts periodic carbon footprint assessments by looking at the levels at which we – as both King County government and our greater community - emit greenhouse gases (GHG), the primary cause of recent climate change .

Chart: where do greenhouse gases (GHG) come from in King County

Most of the GHGs emitted in King County come from transportation and energy use. Purchased goods and services also have GHG emissions associated with them before they reach the consumer. The chart accounts for all GHGs created from goods and services also have GHG associated with them before they reach the consumer. The chart accounts for all GHGs created from goods and services, from production, to transporation, to sale, usage and disposal.

  • 25 percent: Goods such as clothing and electronics
  • 22 percent: Transportation such as air and car travel
  • 18 percent: Services such as health care
  • 15 percent: Homes and buildings such as energy use for heating and lighting
  • 13 percent: Food produces GHGs based on what, how and where it was grown
  • 7 percent: Construction
Where greenhouse gases (GHG) come from in King County (2015) Click to enlarge

For GHG emissions that occur locally in King County’s geography, the top sources are:

  • Fossil fuels used for transportation
  • Energy used to heat, cool, and power our homes and buildings

For emissions associated with the consumption of goods and services by King County residents, no matter where the emissions physically occur, the top sources are:

  • Purchase of goods and food
  • Fossil fuels used for transportation

Although the GHG emissions from King County’s operations as a government entity are small when compared with communitywide emissions, the County is committed to reducing its own footprint to model best practices and demonstrate that climate solutions have benefits to human health, the economy and our environment.

Communitywide - GHG emissions sources and trends

*Latest 2017 Update* GHG Emissions in King County: Inventory, Contribution Analysis, and Wedge Analysis (Published July 2019; 48 pages, 893 Kb
This report contains three pieces of analysis: an updated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory for King County for 2017; a contribution analysis of the drivers of emissions change between 2008 and 2017; and a wedge analysis of actions that can be applied from 2017 through 2050 to achieve emissions reductions in line with shared County and city goals adopted by the Growth Management Planning Council.

King County communitywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions wedge analysis to achieve shared GHG targets

Graph shows reductions in greenhouse gases from the projected emissions levels, and showing the 50% 2030 target and 100% 20150 target:

  • Building and facility use
    • Strengthen building energy codes
    • Reduce energy use in buildings and industry
    • Transition fossil fuel use in buildings and energy
  • Transportation
    • Protect federal vehicle efficiency standards
    • Reduce car trips
    • Adopt clean fuels standard
    • Increase adoption of electric vehicles
  • Phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Implement 100% clean electricity law
King county communitywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions wedge analysis to achieve shared GHG targets Click to open pdf

Government operations - GHG emissions sources and trends

For more information about King County government operations GHG emissions sources and trends and King County’s work to reduce these sources by at least 80% by 2030, please see King County’s Operational Carbon Neutral Plan.

Archive of past reports and inventories

2015 Update: GHG Emissions in King County (2.9 Mb)
In the 2015 and 2008 GHG Emissions in King County reports, in addition to quantifying sources of local emissions from sources like transportation and energy use, King County estimated emissions associated with the consumption of goods and services by King County residents, no matter where the emissions occurred.

2010 Update: GHG Emissions in King County (143 Kb)

2008 Update: GHG Emissions in King County (5.8 Mb)

2003 Update: Inventory of King County Air Emissions (434 Kb)

2000: Inventory of King County Air Emissions (3 Mb)