Greenhouse Gas Emissions in King County

Report commissioned by King County, Wash.

Author(s): Erickson, P. ; Stanton, E.A. ; Chandler, C. ; Lazarus, M. ; Bueno, R. ; Munitz, C.; Cegan, J.; and Daudon, M., and Donegan, S. (Cascadia Consulting Group)
Year: 2012


Full report (PDF, 5.9mb)

Individual parts:
•  Summary (1.9mb)
•  Appendix A: Tracking framework
•  Appendix B: Geographic Plus methodology
•  Appendix C: Supplemental emissions calculations
•  Appendix D: Consumption-based inventory methodology

This study, one of the first of its kind, quantifies greenhouse gas emissions for King County, Wash. – which includes Seattle – and gauges the community's contribution to global emissions from two very different, but complementary, perspectives:

•   The Geographic-plus Inventory estimates year 2008 GHG emissions released within King County's geographic boundary (it is called "plus" because it also includes some emissions outside the boundary, such as those associated with air travel and electricity generation).

•   The 2008 Consumption-based Inventory quantifies the emissions associated with consumption by King County residents and governments (as well as certain business investments). This includes emissions associated with production, transport, sale, use, and disposal of goods and services – no matter where they are produced. Emissions associated with goods and services produced in King County but exported out of the region are excluded.

By the first measure, King County is responsible for 12 tons of GHG emissions per resident; by the second, for 29 tons per resident. Most of the difference can be attributed to the fact that King County residents consume more emissions-intensive goods (such as vehicles and food) than they produce.

The report also quantifies additional sources and sinks of emissions that don't fit neatly into either inventory, including those associated with carbon stored in forests and the emissions benefits of recycling.

Finally, the report develops and pilots a framework for King County to track key sources of GHG emissions in years between more comprehensive GHG inventories, focusing on a "core" set of emissions that can be easily measured and over which local governments (King County included) have relatively direct and unique policy influence: local building energy use, vehicle travel, and waste disposal.

Such frameworks may be useful to the thousands of U.S. communities that are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. No standard protocol or framework currently exists for tracking local-level emissions in the United States, so this framework fills an important gap.

The report was prepared by SEI in a partnership between King County, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the City of Seattle, with additional support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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