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Seattle Makes Strides In Reducing Its Carbon Footprint


Workers install solar panels on the roof of the Bullitt Center in Seattle.

Workers install solar panels on the roof of the Bullitt Center in Seattle.

Michael Werner

Seattle is making strides in reducing its carbon footprint. A new report from the city finds that  greenhouse gas emissions fell by 6 percent over a  six-year period.
 
The report was prepared by the Stockholm Environment Institute. It looked at the years between 2008 and 2014. Energy-efficient homes and vehicles were among the biggest factors in curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Higher temperatures also helped by reducing the energy required to keep homes and workplaces warm.
 
Seattle added 75,000 people to its population while its greenhouse gas emissions were falling. So on a per-capita basis, greenhouse gas emissions citywide fell by 17 percent.

Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane trap heat, causing average temperatures to rise. The changing climate is resulting in melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and is contributing to more intense weather disasters.  

Despite the progress, the report cautioned that Seattle’s carbon-cutting pace is not good enough to meet the city’s goals.

“The sobering reality is that while our progress is positive, we are not currently on pace to meet our 2030 climate goals,” wrote Jessica Finn Coven, the director of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment, in the report’s cover letter. “We know we must scale up the pace of our emissions reductions and we have already taken steps to make that happen.”

She said initiatives that are meant to help the city step up its carbon reductions include:

- A strategy to move vehicles and watercraft away from fossil fuels to carbon-neutral electricity.

- Public spending on transit, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and services.

- More aggressive efforts to reduce energy use in commercial buildings.

- A proposed energy code to make new and renovated buildings more energy efficient through increased use of heat pumps and other technologies.

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