Climate news - King County emissions inventory released

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Robin Briggs

Oct 7, 2022, 12:07:01 AM10/7/22
This is Seattle/King County Climate News for 10.6.22. 

News keeps coming! King County emissions inventory dropped today, Seattle inventory expected in the next few weeks. 


The Transportation Plan finished the Phase 1 survey, and is now gathering public feedback in Phase 2. Click here for the new survey. Jan-June 2023 they will have a draft plan available.

The Budget Committee will have a hearing for public comment on the budget Oct. 11 at 5pm.

King County

King County released the new Emissions Inventory. The new inventory includes data from 2019 and 2020, and is calculated two ways, once based on geographical emissions, one based on consumption. Some interesting findings:

  • Per capita emissions are trending down over time, and have decreased by 7% since 2008. However, during that same time, the population has grown 18%, and overall emissions are 10% higher than they were in 2008. The County needs steeper emissions reductions in order to meet its goals.

  • The pandemic has had an impact; while emissions were up 3% in 2019 compared to 2017, they were down 13% in 2020 compared to 2017. Both transportation and building emissions were lower in 2020. In particular, aviation was down 40% in 2020 vs 2019.

  • There is an updated wedge diagram analysis that includes recently passed State legislation, including the recently announced phase out of gas-powered cars. 

  • The report identified these factors that are causing increased emissions: growing population, more fossil fuel based electricity, expanded local economy, and increased air travel. It also identified these factors that are driving reductions in emissions: improved vehicle efficiency, decreased commercial energy per job,  decreased residential energy per home, and decreased waste generation per person.

  • The report compared King County to other similar jurisdictions. Per capita emissions in San Francisco County are half what they are in King County, and in Multnomah County in Oregon  they are inbetween but markedly lower than King County. So it would instructive to see what they are doing better in the San Francisco and Portland areas; it seems likely that it's not just that it is colder here.


Wedge analysis from King County Emissions Inventory

The King County Council held a budget panel hearing for environment and climate, and there will be a second one on Oct. 12 at 9:30am. The proposed new Climate Office will have 3 FTEs transferred into it, plus one open position for the director. More positions likely to be moved after the director is hired.  The office will centralize climate operations and is necessary for the Strategic Climate Action Plan to be realized on time. The Council is looking forward to hearing more from the Executive about what the new Climate Office will do. 

Metro is budgeted for a 19% increase over the last biennium. Some of this will pay back into Metro's reserve fund, which was reduced during the pandemic. Metro is also planning to continue to electrify its fleet. Metro is also looking to add service hours, but even with the addition, hours will not be back to where they were before the pandemic.

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