SEATTLE — Here’s the good news:
When it comes to greenhouse gases, King County residents emit 20 percent less than the rest of the state.
Here’s some more good news: per-person emissions in the county decreased over the five-year period the report assessed. That’s because people are driving less and buying more fuel-efficient cars.
Now for the bad news: even though individual level emissions are going down, the county as a whole is emitting more greenhouse gases. That’s because the population is rising.
The report found that transportation and building energy use still make up the largest piece of the emissions pie - but these two sectors have got some competition.
“One of the interesting things we did in this study was also look through a consumption based lens,” explains Matt Kuharic, a senior climate change specialist with King County. “So what are the emissions associated with everything that we buy – goods services – and when you look at it through this lens per person emissions are quite a bit higher.”
Greenhouse gases are a byproduct of making the things we buy and the food we eat.
And King County residents spend more on consumer goods than other counties in the state. Kuharic says that doesn’t have to mean a lot more emissions.
“You can be as rich as you can be and still have a low environmental impact if you’re conscious of how you spend your money but in general it is true that our relatively high consumption based emissions are because we buy more stuff here.”
The report doesn’t provide specific advice about what to buy to lower your greenhouse gas emissions. Kuharic says that the goal was to gather baseline information so that the county can then figure out where to focus its efforts to lower emissions.
King County has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall by 80 percent by 2050.
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