Strategic Climate Action Plan
King County has a Climate Action Plan which it adopted in 2015. This year, it is in the process of updating the plan. The Executive has completed a draft, which is now public. King County Council will be reviewing it and conducting public hearings on it this fall and winter. The plan is about 300 pages long, and I am still in the process of reading through it all. I have attempted to summarize it here; there is a lot here that I've glossed over, so that I can emphasize most those things that are major reductions or changes that the county will take on, and have skipped over many items that the county is planning to support or encourage.
The goals are still 50% reduction by 2030, compared to a baseline of 2007. One third of this to come through reduced transportation, mostly from a shift from single occupancy vehicles to transit. One third of this through buildings. Final third of reductions from Washington State plans to phase out HFCs and the Clean Energy Transformation Act. The plan centers climate justice and equity. Unusually, the climate plan includes a provision for reducing emissions from consumption, although the county will have to investigate more how to do that. These are emissions resulting from goods that are shipped into the county.
The county will implement a 2050 growth management strategy, including limiting growth in rural KC to less than 1.5% of county total (or 98.5% within the Urban Growth Boundary). It will prioritize transit in right of ways, increase zoning capacity, reduce parking minimums, increase affordable housing, minimizing displacement near transit. Growth will be concentrated in designated centers that are zoned for transit-supported density. The county will connect communities together, and to open land, prioritizing areas with limited park access, higher health disparities, low incomes, BIPOC communities, and people living more than a 10-minute walk from a park. County will complete 10 miles of new Regional Trails.
In order to meet its goals in transportation, the county will have to reduce VMT by 20%, and increase transit ridership (Metro, ST, STBD) to 231 million by 2025, 269 million by 2030, and 378 million (as of 2019, there were 166 million, so this is more than doubling). This is to be done by a combination of improving transit and charging road use fees to vehicles. The county is committing to engage in a regional conversation to evaluate options for a vehicle usage pricing policy that is equitable. The county will advocate for an approach that is equitable and supports public transit.
The county will put up a ballot measure for regional transit to fund improvements and move towards the vision laid out in Metro CONNECTS, the long term planning document from Metro. Metro will prioritize routes by amount of GHG reduction, balancing ridership and climate priorities with equity and other identified investment needs, but focus mainly on high ridership. Develop corridor prioritization to invest in speed and reliability improvements for public transit in areas of greatest need. Complete a minimum of 20 spot improvements and assess needs for 2-3 corridor each biennium (note that this work is not included in the 2021-2022 budget). Increase transit frequency as funding allows.
Evaluate opportunities for public charging infrastructure at county facilities to prioritize equitable access to shared mobility. Evaluate and consider adoption of incentives or requirements for TNC licensing that phases in EV adoption. Target for EV adoption, by sales of new vehicles: 100% light duty by 2030, 50% medium duty by 2035, 28% heavy duty by 2035 (Currently we are at 7% light duty new car sales, and 1% of all vehicles on road are electric).
The goal is to reduce energy use in all existing buildings by 25% by 2030, and 45% by 2050 compared to a 2017 baseline. Energy use has risen 11% since 2015.
The county will study and develop an analysis of gaps in financial offerings for building improvements by economic status or geography. The county will support energy loan programs, for residential and commercial, and will propose a CPACER program.
County will work with utilities to develop a countywide efficiency program, including energy use evaluations, weatherization, LED replacement, low carbon water and space heating.This will include a website that educates residents on what programs are available.
County will implement a residential point of sale energy disclosure requirement.
The county will develop a program to convert buildings heated with oil and propane to clean sources of energy, that prioritizes conversion for low incomes and senior residents. Lower financial and logistical barriers for conversion to low/zero-carbon cooking, space and water heating (planning activity).
Prioritize low-income and underserved communities with community solar or shared ownership models, possibly working with Puget Sound Sage 100% Cities Project.
Strengthen building codes in unincorporated areas. Track the SBCC to insure a 70% reduction, and make changes as necessary or just adopt Seattle’s code.
The county is adopting a stronger goal of 25% reduction by 2020, 50% by 2025, and 80% by 2030, against a 2007 baseline for county operations. It will continue to use a social cost of carbon for evaluating GHG reduction projects, based on the value from state Utilities and Transportation Commission (also used by utilities for Clean Energy Transformation Act). GHG from county operations will be reported and every two years as part of the SCAP reporting cycle, and will be tracked annually.
In 2022, county will reevaluate the internal carbon and energy fee used by Fleet Services, Facilities Management Division (FMD), and Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP).
Wastewater Treatment and Solid Waste will be carbon neutral by 2025.
Reduce fleet emissions by 45% by 2025, and 70% by 2030. Electrify the fleet and build out vehicle recharging infrastructure.
Adjust the Fund to Reduce Energy Demand (FRED) to fund projects that are life cycle cost effective up to an operational life cycle of 20 years. Create addition accountability of capital project managers and county agencies to ensure life cycle cost effectiveness criteria are used. Educate project managers on utility incentives. Evaluate increased teleworking.
All agencies to inventory all fossil fuel uses in each facility including space heating, water heating, backup generator and other needs, and create a fossil fuel elimination plan.
Eliminate fossil fuel use in new county buildings with minor exceptions for backup power, etc.
It's a long report, and there are also sections on climate justice, green buildings, consumption and materials management, forests & agriculture, and climate resiliency. Looking for help in going through it all.
p.69 – County budget should have entry for assessing corridor priority on at least 2-3 routes
p. 73 – What are the designated centers for zoning density? When will they be chosen?
p. 91 – Point of sale energy disclosure – similar to Portland Home Energy Score?
P. 93 – Why is the goal for buildings to reduce energy use and not GHG emissions?
All county agencies will inventory and create a plan for eliminating use of fossil fuels. When are those plans due?
Is there a way to communicate with the Climate Advisory Board? Who is on it?
In the Media
Seattle Times, New King County climate plan calls for 50% cut in emissions by 2030, 80% by 2050
The Urbanist, King County’s Proposed 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan Centers Environmental Justice
MyNorthwest, King County unveils ‘ambitious’ plan to combat climate change over next decade
Federal Way Mirror, Constantine announces King County climate action plan