Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change
Gases that absorb and trap heat in the atmosphere are called “greenhouse gases.” As the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere increases, the amount of heat trapped by the atmosphere also increases, causing the overall warming of the planet. The various impacts from this warming are referred to as climate change.
The urgency to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions continues to grow. This urgency is highlighted through multiple comprehensive scientific reports as well as direct lived experience in the Northwest, where we have experienced record-setting temperatures and unprecedented wildfire smoke impacts in recent years.
Washington State has passed ambitious legislation in recent years to help reduce greenhouse emissions and the federal government is making unprecedented funding available for climate actions. Our region and state will need to optimize these opportunities and more to meet our science-based climate targets. Our Agency’s 2030 target is for the region’s greenhouse gas emissions to be 50% below 1990 emissions levels. Our emissions levels are are still above 1990 emission levels as of 2023, so our work is cut out for us.
Transportation Actions and More
In our region, nearly 40% of our greenhouse gas pollution comes from transportation – cars, trucks, trains, ships, etc. With partners like the Puget Sound Regional Council, we focus many of our efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. These actions also provide air quality benefits by reducing harmful pollutants like diesel particulate, benzene, formaldehyde, and more.
In addition to our current transportation efforts like the Regional Electric Vehicle Collaborative, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is leading the EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) program for our region. This grant, which includes planning and implementation phases, is a component of the federal Inflation Reduction Act. The Agency is coordinating closely with the Washington State Department of Commerce, who is leading the state’s CPRG effort. Priority climate action plans and implementation proposals are due to EPA in spring 2024, and will cover all source categories. These categories include transportation, the built environment (our homes and commercial and industrial buildings and how they’re powered, heated and cooled), and several more.