15% Better Than Business As Usual

King County has released a draft of its SEPA Climate Change Ordinance for public comment. The money passage:

“An action, as defined under the state environmental policy act, shall be deemed by King County to not have a significant, adverse impact on the environment with respect to greenhouse gas emissions and climate if the proponent demonstrates to satisfaction of the department of development and environmental services that the action will result in greenhouse gas emissions that are at least fifteen percent below the average emissions that category of development is estimated to generate under a business as usual scenario.”

Zowie! We’re finally going to draw a line in the sand. No doubt there’s still a lot of work to do to establish the business as usual metrics, as well as how to accurately evaluate the expected emissions of proposed development. But this is where it starts.

And even though King County has jurisdiction over relatively small portion of development in the Puget Sound region, what they are doing is still hugely important because they are the trailblazers. Other jurisdictions, including Seattle, are watching closely and are likely to model their own regulations after King County’s.

As laudable as King County’s efforts are, the unfortunate truth is that fifteen percent is actually fairly modest in light of the general consensus that 80 to 90% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed by 2050. King County does expect that the business as usual benchmark will be reduced over time, which will help. But you’d have to apply a 15% reduction ten times over to get to an 80% total reduction. That would mean the benchmark would have to be reduced by 15% about every four years to achieve the goal of 80% by 2050. And that’s not even considering all the existing buildings that would still be hanging around, emitting at the former business as usual rates.

Uh-huh, it’s a staggeringly monumental task. Progress is being made, but the bottom line is we still don’t know how to get there.

3 Responses to “15% Better Than Business As Usual”

  1. Jason

    Speaking of “Business as Usual,” could you please delete the dozens of invisible drug-pushing links from your Wordpress template? Your blog has been hacked and is being used both to link to and to sell all sorts of things even worse than poorly-designed real estate.

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