Carbon Emissions Down Slightly In Washington, But 2020 Goal Unlikely To Be Met

Nov 20, 2019

Map of carbon emissions state wide.
Credit NOAA photo

The Department of Ecology says Washington State saw a small decrease in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the most recent data released.

According to the latest data from the department, total carbon emissions rose 1.7 percent in 2016 to 97.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, then fell slightly in 2017 to 97.5 million metric tons.

In 2008, greenhouse gas targets were set in Washington with a goal of matching the 1990 emissions levels by the year 2020.

Ecology spokesman Andrew Wineke says the state is not on track to meet that in the near future.

“Yeah that’s the bad news. We're not quite on target. There are real signs of optimism in these new numbers. There was a lot more renewable energy we saw in 2016 and '17, and overall emissions in the energy sector were down significantly. But more people are moving to Washington. There are more cars. There’s additional business activity, so there’s other sources of emissions that are up,” said the Department of Ecology spokesman.

Even so, Wineke is optimistic about the future.

“Washington voters approved an initiative back in 2006 that required our utilities to get a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources, and the end game of that was by 2020. And so we're seeing the amount of wind power, solar and biomass power ramping up to meet that. And so earlier this year our legislature adopted a target where all electricity is going to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2030, and so we expect to see those emissions from electricity and energy fall in the years ahead,” he said.

The emission sources that have increased include more activity from trucks and aviation.

On the positive side, 2017 was also a good water year, which provided an ample supply of non-carbon emitting hydropower.