County doubles down on commitment to Paris Climate Agreement

The King County Council reaffirmed its commitment to upholding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement through approving an ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting.

The county adopted a climate action plan in 2015 with goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the county 80 percent by 2050 with intermediate goals.

“We have always said that much of what can and must happen on climate change needs to happen at the local level,” said Megan Smith, director of the county’s climate and energy initiatives program.

Other commitments include doubling transit ridership by 2040, reducing energy used in county buildings and achieving a 70 percent recycling rate throughout the county by 2020.

In the plan, a commitment to phasing out the use of coal-fired electricity by 2025 was proposed and that the county government should be using 100 percent greenhouse gas emission neutral electricity by 2025.

Smith said the county had reached an agreement to purchase 98 percent of all energy loads from the company to wind energy by 2019.

Council member Rod Dembowski praised the initiative and the steps the county had taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in recent years.

“We are actually leading and on the cutting edge of this,” he said.

President Donald Trump has signaled his administration wants to pull out of the 2015 international Paris Climate Agreement.

Nations that signed on agreed to take steps to keep the global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius higher than it was in pre-industrial times. The ultimate goal was to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or under.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, along with the governors of California and Oregon and major cities in all three states, signed a statement to Trump reaffirming their goal of combating climate change independent of the federal government.

Smith echoed a similar message on Tuesday.

“We feel that with President Trump recommending to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords, that local action is now more important than ever,” she said at the council meeting.

Redmond Mayor John Marchione signed on to the Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda in June, a non-binding agreement that called on mayors in the U.S. to uphold commitments to goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Other local organizations have also affirmed their support for tackling climate change such as Microsoft, which implemented an internal carbon fee, as reported by the Redmond Magazine.

Students at Tesla STEM High School in Redmond received an award from the federal Environmental Protection Agency for their work to reduce the carbon footprint of their school.

A group of students started the “Schools Under 2C” program, which designed to reduce CO2 emissions by 28 percent based on factors students could control, such as turning off lights, composting and carpooling.