Climate Change

Climate Action
The challenge of climate change has never been more pressing. The most recent report from the world's leading climate scientists, the International Panel on Climate Change, forecasts devastating and irreversible impacts to the planet if the world does not drastically reduce pollution by 2030. Climate change is a global challenge and carbon pollution knows no boundaries.

The City of Seattle tracks its progress towards its climate goals back to a baseline year of 2008. Our most recent analysis shows that Seattle's core climate emissions increased less than .6 percent between 2014 and 2016, while the city grew by 46,300 new residents over that same time period. 


Blue cloud and down arrow showing 5 percent decline

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Goal: Reduce total core greenhouse gas emissions 58% by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050
Since 2008, Seattle's total core emissions have declined 5%. However, our most recent analysis showed a slight increase in GHG emissions between 2014 - 2016.

Seattle's Greenhouse Gas Inventory covers the city's "core emissions" - which are the emissions sources that the City can most directly and significantly impact. Seattle's core emissions include greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportation, building energy, and waste. 


Car icon and blue cloud showing 1 percent decline

Transportation Emissions

Goal: Reduce transportation emissions 82% from 2008 levels by 2030 
Since 2008, transportation emissions have remained relatively flat, with a 1% overall decrease. 

Mayor Durkan's Climate Action Strategy is designed to accelerate the pace of our emissions reductions including strategies that will help electrify our transportation system and reduce the need to use cars to get around. Highlights from the Mayor's Strategy include:

• Address congestion and emissions through pricing and expanding transit in underserved communities
• Installing public and residential EV charging infrastructure
• Ensuring new parking is built with electric vehicle infrastructure 
• Phasing out fossil fuels in the City's vehicle fleet


Building icon and blue cloud showing 13 percent decline

Building Energy Emissions

Goal: Reduce building energy emissions 38% from 2008 levels by 2030
Since 2008 building emissions have declined 13% overall.  

Mayor Durkan's Climate Action Strategy includes multiple ways the city is fostering the efficient use of energy in buildings. Highlights include: 

• Offering utility incentives for actual performance rather than projected savings
• Developing minimum performance standards for existing buildings
• Incentivizing the switch from oil heat to clean electricity
• Advancing energy codes requiring new buildings to be highly efficient
• Incentivizing the highest performing developments with additional height and floor area
• Phasing out fossil fuels in the City's building portfolio 


Blue cloud and down arrow showing 19 percent decline

Solid Waste

Goal: Reduce emissions from solid waste 58% from 2008 levels by 2030 
Since 2008 waste emissions have declined 19% overall.  

Seattle has long been a national leader in recycling and waste reduction. Seattle's 2017 recycling report showed that residential waste per capita dropped to an all-time low of 2.23 pounds per person per day. That is nearly a 19% drop from the 2007 rate of 2.74 pounds per person per day. 


People icons and blue cloud showing 20 percent decline

Per Person Emissions

Goal: Reduce Seattle's Per Person Emissions
Seattle's per person emissions have declined 20% since 2008. 

Per-person emissions have declined every year since 2008. Seattleites are driving fewer miles in cleaner cars, using less energy to heat and power our buildings, and are diverting more waste, particularly food scraps, from landfills. While this trend is positive and demonstrates that Seattle's climate policies are working as intended, Seattle's overall core emissions are not on pace to reach our goals. We need to continue to see steep declines in per person emissions and accelerate our pace of overall emissions reductions.