As I've been greening my own life, it's become increasingly important to me to understand how my city, county, state, and nation are addressing the issues of peaking oil and climate change.
Most of the information for my local government is online, so it hasn't been too difficult to investigate and figure out what my government representatives are up to. Let's have a look.
The City of Bellevue
Bellevue is a city experiencing a period of epic growth. Looking out my window, the skyline is dotted with dozens of cranes cranking out endless numbers of skyscrapers. New restaurants and businesses are popping up almost daily.
Because of this, I'm not shocked that Bellevue has been a little reticent on the matter of climate change. If you go to the city website, their environmental section covers a number of pressing issues: water conservation, flood prevention, saving salmon, etc. But there is no information on Bellevue's emissions or how it plans to cut them.
A further look online shows that the Bellevue City Council refused to sign the global warming plan at the Conference of US Mayors last year, prefering to go with their own version of a global warming plan. If they are putting one in action, it's not in the public eye.
Clearly, Bellevue needs some more encouragement to focus on the environment.
Neighboring Seattle does much better. They have a full climate change plan you can read here.
King County is a completely different story. The richness of information about King County's global warming plan is astonishing.
If you live in King County, I would strongly recommend perusing the 2007 King County Climate Plan. Some highlights:
King County produces .08% of worldwide emissions. To compare, King County has .03% of the world's population. Likewise, Washington contributes .31% emissions and has .1% of the world population.
The projected impact of climate change on the King County area is spelled out in an extremely detailed way. Forecasted weather changes include:
- More rain in the west
- Less rain in the east
- Less snow in the mountains
- More floods in the winter
- More droughts in the summer
- More droughts in the East
- Widespread issues with ecosystem, agriculture, and disease
- And then, of course, there's the potential impact of sea rise if the ice shelf collapses...
King County's goal is to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. They present several ideas and projects that directly relate to the goal, many with immediate timelines.
It shouldn't be shocking, but the biggest emissions fight King County faces is not electricity or industry or landfills, but transportation. There are more cars on the road every year in King County, and more miles driven every year. The County is going to have to get clever in figuring out how to face this.
The State of Washington
Governor Christine Gregoire has taken many material steps to committing Washington to a green path. The Washington State Climate Change site has a wealth of information about the analysis and planning the State government has done to address the issue
Of significant interest are the emissions projections, where again, you can see the problem for Washington State is transportation.
The other fantastic read is the recently released report by the Climate Advisory Team called "A Comprehensive Approach Towards Reducing Greenhouse Gases in Washington State".
To summarize it, Washington States goals are as follows:
- By 2020, reduce emissions to 1990 levels. By 2035, reduce 25% below that, By 2050, reduce 50% below that.
- By 2020, increase green jobs to 25,000 (this legislation passed the house yesterday).
- By 2020, reduce $$ spent on imported fuel by 20%.
At a high level, here are some of the ways they recommend we achieve this:
- Implement a cap-and-trade with clear emissions reporting
- Integrate emissions analysis into all projects and decisions, especially development.
- Redesign communities to have less dependency on Single Occupancy Vehicles
- Make vehicles as efficient as possible, use alternative fuels
- Focus infrastructure on clean transit
- Upgrade local buildings to be energy efficient
- Deliver energy from less coal-dependent sources
- Keep forests and farms healthy,planting more = more stored carbon.
Do you know your area's climate change plan?