King County aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council gave its unanimous approval today to King County’s 2012 Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP). The SCAP is the County’s blueprint summarizing its leadership in addressing climate change, outlining the county’s most critical goals and priority actions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and preparing for the impacts of climate change.
“The climate crisis is already showing up in increasing flooding, ocean acidification, and rising sea levels, as well as decreasing mountain snowpack over time,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. “The SCAP continues King County’s forward-thinking leadership on climate change by identifying actions King County is taking to address climate change in county services and operations. It sets goals and measurable targets for King County to reach in our progress on the climate.”
“It is important for King County to continue being a leader in environmental protection and stewardship,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, co-sponsor of the motion. “As a native Washingtonian and father of young twins, I am pleased that we are taking steps now to preserve the natural beauty of our region for the enjoyment of future generations in years to come.”
“The SCAP is recognition that we need to start working now to combat the impacts of climate change,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “It’s also recognition that climate change is an issue that ignores jurisdictions. A cooperative effort will be the only way to solve this issue.”
The SCAP focuses on five areas, with proposed goals and priority actions designed to make the largest possible reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to prepare for climate change impacts:
• Transportation and Land Use
• Consumption and Materials Management
• Forests and Agriculture, and
• Preparing for Climate Change Impacts
In each area, the SCAP integrates the initiatives underway across county government and identifies goals, targets, performance measures, and priority actions going forward. Overall, King County aims to reduce countywide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent below 2007 levels by 2050.
“The impacts of climate change affect everything from building efficiency to transportation alternatives to how we address flooding," Councilmember Julia Patterson said. “I'm pleased that the council has adopted this action plan today so that King County can be proactive and accountable in our work towards environment sustainability.”
“Reducing waste will make a significant impact on carbon emissions throughout the lifecycle of a product, from production to transportation and disposal,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “Less waste going to the Cedar Hills Landfill means less methane escaping into the atmosphere, now and in future decades.”
“King County has long been a leader in addressing environmental concerns,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “Adopting the Strategic Climate Action Plan for 2012 focuses our goals as a County in relation to climate change and allows the County to set the proper priorities.”
“It is our collective responsibility to address climate change. This plan will help the County meet this responsibility and work to ensure that our programs and services are environmentally sustainable,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott.
King County has a decade of leadership in addressing climate change. The county has taken action through plans on energy use, green building, and sustainable purchasing; incorporating environmental sustainability in its existing work on flood management, public transportation, solid waste management, land use planning, and open space acquisition; researching and analyzing greenhouse gas emissions; and working regionally with other cities and communities.
The SCAP is based around the framework of the King County Strategic Plan, the organizing framework for the County’s operations and measurement of its performance. When the Council adopted the Strategic Plan, one of its goals was environmental sustainability—reducing climate pollution and preparing for the effects of climate change on the environment, human health and the economy.
The SCAP, which was developed collaboratively by the Council and Executive, builds on past Council policies and Executive Orders and unifies county commitments on climate change. The adopted motion requires the Executive to identify how new legislation related to environmental, transportation, and energy issues furthers the goals of the SCAP to ensure the plan is a “living document” that influences the County’s priorities and actions in the future.
“Climate pledges are good but they’re not enough,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “This plan brings together a clear set of actions with the means to hold ourselves accountable for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our operations, as well as supporting residents to do the same.”
The intent of SCAP is that it will provide “one-stop-shopping” on the issue of climate change for elected officials, staff, and community members; help county agencies coordinate their work; and inform the business plans and budgets of individual agencies.
The adopted legislation calls for the SCAP to be updated in 2015. The 2015 update will be integrated with King County’s existing Energy Plan and will include more information on actions King County can take on the community level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Annual performance reports will also ensure accountability in transparency on how the County is progressing on our goals and priority actions.