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Combating Climate Change

Combating Climate Change

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Washington state has taken a leading role among states when it comes to climate action and creating clean energy jobs. The governor and legislature have adopted policies aimed at unleashing innovation across all sectors of the economy to transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean, renewable energy. The stakes are high as communities across the state are already experiencing damaging effects from climate change: rising acidity in seawater is damaging our shellfish industry; rising sea levels are displacing coastal communities including members of the Quinault Indian Nation; and according to climate scientists, the state's drier, hotter summers are likely to continue causing more devastating fires and drought resulting in agricultural losses.

This is why the governor has pursued an unprecedented suite of clean energy legislation and has ushered in aggressive timelines for decarbonizing Washington’s economy and transforming the state’s energy landscape.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035

Washington’s transition to clean energy means we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting new jobs and economic growth. To accomplish the level of GHG emission reductions laid out in state law – and even further, as scientists say we must do -- policies to decarbonize every sector of the state’s economy are necessary.

Transition to 100% clean electricity - Washington's electricity usage accounts for approximately 19.5%  of our total greenhouse gas emissions based on the Washington State Department of Ecology's 2018 report.  Increasing the usage of clean electricity is vital to meeting our goals.  

Electrify transportation system - Transportation contributes 43% of overall carbon emissions in the state. By increasing the number of electric vehicles, ferries and buses, we can dramatically decrease our carbon emissions. 

Improve building efficiency - Retrofitting old buildings and updating standards for the new ones is one of the most cost effective ways to improve our state's carbon foot print. 

Reduce state government emissions - State government is committed to reducing our carbon emissions. To make that happen, we have established robust targets and are working to do our part to reverse climate change. 

Reduce the use of super pollutants -  Super pollutants, like hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), represent a clear risk to our environment. Safer alternatives for the most damaging HFCs are readily available and cost-effective. With new legislation passed in May 2019, Washington State can begin transitioning away from their use.

What We Are Doing To Deliver Results
  • On May 7, 2019, Governor Inslee signed five bills to combat climate change in Washington state and positions the state as a national climate leader:
    • SB 5116 – Supporting Washington's clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future

    • HB 1112 – Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from hydrofluorocarbons

    • HB 1257 – Concerning the energy efficiency of Washington’s buildings

    • HB 1444 –  Concerning appliance efficiency standards

    • HB 2042 – Advancing green transportation adoption

  • Governor Inslee has led numerous efforts to combat climate change through Executive Orders, Directives and special initiatives including:

    • Executive Order 18-01 established the State Efficiency and Environmental Performance (SEEP) program, which aims to align the state’s day-to-day operations with its ambitious policy goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.

    • The Governor's Electric Fleet Initiative accelerates adoption of electric vehicles in public and private fleets. and directs state agencies to ensure that at least 50% of all new state passenger vehicle purchases are electric vehicles by 2020.

  • The Washington State Department of Ecology produces the Washington State Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This inventory helps us design policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and track progress toward meeting the state’s reduction limits.
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources' Washington Natural Heritage Program (WNHP) addresses the threats posed by our changing climate to our state’s native species and ecosystems.
  • The 2019-21 transportation budget helps launch the electrification of the state’s ferry fleet with funding for one ferry conversion, and authorization for another. Funding was also provided for the construction of a new electric 144-car ferry, with the option to buy four more. Transitioning these ferries from diesel to electric-hybrid will virtually eliminate engine noise and vibration that can hurt orcas, improve reliability, save up to $14 million a year on ferry operating costs and significantly reduce diesel and carbon emissions.
  • Implementing a pioneering, strategic and comprehensive approach to addressing ocean acidification impacts on Washington’s marine resources with the Governor’s Marine Resources Advisory Council. Leading by partnering regionally with Oregon, California and British Columbia and co-founding a global network of partners working on this challenge through the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification.

Performance Dashboard

Achieve the state adopted emissions target of 25% below 1990 levels by 2035

Source:  Washington State Department of Ecology greenhouse gas inventory.

Note: CO2e is a measure that adjusts the impact of each greenhouse gas so that the warming effect of each gas is expressed in terms of the amount of warming caused by carbon dioxide.

Transition to 100% clean electricity by 2045

commits Washington to aggressively transform its electricity system.  

Electrify Transportation System

to achieve the Governor's goal of 50,000 electric vehicles on Washington roads by 2020.

Improve Building Efficiency

ranked third among the top 10 green building states for the year 2018 by LEED.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from state agencies

targets to meet by 2020 to reduce CO2e emissions for each agency.

Phasing Down Super Pollutants

a phased approach to transition away from the use of HFC super pollutants.