Collective action needed to avoid worst impacts of climate change

An analysis found that total greenhouse gas emissions have increased from population growth.

King County Executive Dow Constantine recently announced new actions within the 2023-2024 biennial budget proposal to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) throughout the county. The additional actions comes after a regional analysis of the Puget Sound region shows an urgent need for collective action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The Puget Sound Regional Emissions Analysis found that GHG emissions per person have decreased as the result of more energy efficient vehicles and buildings. On the other hand, total emissions have increased in tandem with population growth.

“The latest study of countywide greenhouse gas emissions is the clearest call ever for immediate climate actions,” said Executive Constantine.

The analysis determined that implementing new local, state and federal energy policies will significantly reduce emissions over the next several years. The analysis also showed an urgent need by local governments, industries, businesses and residents to cut emissions at a faster rate.

“Thanks to the solid foundation that we have built in our region and state, we are in a strong position to leverage unprecedented federal investments in solutions to the climate crisis and accelerate the transition to a clean energy future,” said Executive Constantine.

Data shows that from 2007-2019 in King County:

  • The population grew by 20%, which led to more individuals driving and flying; using energy; and producing waste.
  • Emissions per person decreased by 7%, which was the result of fewer emissions from vehicles; more efficient buildings; and decreased waste generation per person.
  • Countywide emissions increased by 11%, which was of population growth; fossil fuels based electricity; and increased air travel.

Executive Constantine’s 2023-2024 budget proposal included creating a new program that will make it possible for homeowners to receive low-interest loans in order to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy for heating, cooling and cooking. If approved, the budget would invest $180 million to purchase battery-electric buses, and $43 million in zero-emissions infrastructure to ensure that Metro’s 1,400 coach bus fleet produces zero emissions by 2035.

The 2023-2024 budget proposal would also support community-led responses to climate change, with $460,000 going towards the Climate Equity Task Force. Another portion of the proposal includes establishing a new Climate Office to elevate the county’s commitment, coordination and ability to deliver on climate actions internally and in partnership with cities and regional partners.

Analysts found that the most impactful local solutions for the Puget Sound region include creating walkable communities that offer easy access to transit and trails, reducing car trips and increasing the number of green vehicles. Other impactful local solutions are creating more energy efficient homes and workplaces, among others, in addition to generating less waste by household consumption.

“It is our responsibility to the communities we serve, and particularly to the generations who will follow, to do everything we can as soon as we can,” said Executive Constantine.

A special King County Council meeting will be held on November 15 at 1 p.m. to take final action on the proposed 2023-2024 biennial budget.