Washington state greenhouse gas emissions highest since 2007 in latest inventory
Author: Isabella Breda
Washington greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 reached their highest levels in over a decade, according to the state’s latest analysis released on December 28, 2022. Emissions in 2019 penciled out to 102.1 million metric tons - about a 7% increase from 2018 and the most since 2007. They were also more than 9% higher than emission targets set by the state Legislature for 2020. The significant increase largely stems from a higher reliance on fossil fuels - mainly coal and natural gas - for electricity because of poor hydropower production, according to the state Department of Ecology. The electricity sector’s emissions rose from 16.5 million metric tons in 2018 to 21.9 million metric tons in 2019. But state officials say early data shows reductions in electricity demand during the pandemic and improved hydropower production may have helped lower those levels in 2020. And two landmark state climate policies, a carbon-pricing market and a clean fuel standard, are set to go into effect in the new year. The combination of record-breaking heat and extreme cold in 2019 caused a spike in energy demand for heating and cooling. At the same time, there was low snowpack, thus less water behind the dams to spin turbines for electricity.