Lawmakers want tougher carbon-reduction goals, even as WA falls short of current targets

Source: Crosscut, Shauna Sowersby, Jan 17 2020

Twelve years after the Washington Legislature first codified limits on greenhouse gas emissions, lawmakers are considering a new bill that would establish even stricter state targets. 

The original legislation, passed in 2008, sought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a goal that the state has not met. In fact, emissions are 8% higher than 1990 levels. 

Still, policymakers insist that increasing targets is a necessary step toward combating climate change. 

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is leading the charge for setting tougher limits.

This week, he said swift action is needed now more than ever — especially given the state Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to strike down parts of his Clean Air Rule. The 2016 rule capping emissions from certain businesses was a key part of Inslee’s efforts to meet the state’s existing pollution-reduction goals. 

Inslee said the latest science has shown that even those goals are insufficient, and that the state must do more.

Rep. Vandana Slatter, D-Bellevue, is sponsoring Inslee’s proposal to set tougher pollution-reduction targets. She compared the legislation to a roadmap — without it, the state doesn’t have a clear direction for needed action to take. Furthermore, she said Washington is overdue for an adjustment to the 2008 targets it set in place.

“We need to act,” said Slatter. “We need accurate scientific targets to address impacts.”

In addition to the greenhouse gas emission targets outlined in the 2008 bill, the law also required the state Department of Ecology to work closely with the Climate Impact Group from the University of Washington. Together, they review the most updated science after global assessments from places such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are released. The two state agencies must then determine if adjustments should be made to state statutes. 

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