Expansive Climate Change Legislation Proposed for County
Three members of the King County Council introduced proposals to expand King County's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help other cities do the same.
A three-piece package of climate legislation filed this morning could make King County a leader in cutting carbon emissions and help the region take a significant step forward in the fight to slow climate change.
The package would fast-track – by five years – the county’s transition to one of the largest zero-emission public transportation systems in the nation and create an aggressive green jobs program. In acknowledgment of the fact that, globally, cities account for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, the package supports efforts to reduce communitywide greenhouse gas emissions within cities. It would also put a focus on the disproportionate impacts of climate change on low-income and historically underrepresented communities.
Introduced by Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Claudia Balducci, the three pieces of legislation (attached) are headlined by:
- An accelerated transition of King County Metro’s fleet to all-electric, moving the target date from 2040 to 2035.
- The creation of a countywide Green Jobs pipeline to help workers across the county – especially those from historically underrepresented communities – prepare and train for the jobs of tomorrow.
- A 500% expansion of the electric vehicle charging network at county buildings, parks, and park-and-rides completed by 2030. The county would also accelerate conversion of its 2,000+ vehicle fleet to all-electric.
- Create a Climate Action Toolkit to partner with local jurisdictions and help them create tailored climate action plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions communitywide.
- A new requirement that updates to the county Strategic Climate Action Plan be done using an environmental justice framework, addressing racial and economic disparities exacerbated by climate change. It would also require any county investments in affordable housing to consider opportunities to provide access to electric vehicles.
- Calls on the County to build on its partnerships with cities and other stakeholders to expand efforts to reduce King County’s communitywide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
King County operates one of the largest public transportation fleets in the nation. As transportation accounts for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, per the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the county’s transition to all-electric in both its transit fleet and in other county-owned vehicles would make for a significant reduction in emissions in the county.
Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles: “On September 20th, I heard loud and clear from youth around the world that immediate action on the global climate crisis is needed now. For many years, our county has led the way in implementing policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the environment around us. This package of bills accelerates our work to implement green infrastructure, jobs and policy. The youth have done their part to raise awareness about this issue and now it’s up to those of us elected leaders to take definitive action to reverse course and implement climate policies that will make a difference for generations to come.”
King County Council Chair Rod Dembowski: “Millions of high-paying new jobs in the emerging zero-emission economy are going to be up for grabs. This proposal helps ensure that King County residents, especially those from historically disadvantaged communities, will be ready to compete and be hired into those living wage jobs.”
Council Vice Chair Claudia Balducci: “We must act together and with urgency. With this motion, we are dedicating County resources and expertise to provide a climate action toolkit for cities to identify the strategies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions where most of them occur.”