OLYMPIA -- Taking their lead from Bellevue, Washington state agencies have developed a new online pledge form to help Washington residents take individual actions against climate change, the state Department of Ecology announced Friday.
Modeled after a booklet first handed out to Bellevue sixth-graders last spring, the easy-to-use "Shrink Your Carbon Footprint" online pledge:
- Helps people identify actions they're already taking that reduce their individual "carbon footprint" (their contribution to climate-changing greenhouse gas pollution).
- Helps people identify what more they can do to further reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
"The problem of climate change is global, and the solutions are very complex. It will take all of us doing our part -- through individual actions, societal actions and governmental actions -- to turn back the clock on the climate-changing greenhouse gas pollution," said Janice Adair, state Department of Ecology manager who chairs the Western Climate Initiative, a multi-state, multi-province regional effort to reduce greenhouse gases.
In Washington, transportation accounts for almost half the state's total carbon footprint. This means individual actions can make a significant difference.
After transportation, the next largest contributor to Washington's carbon footprint is burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) for residential, commercial and industrial use. Although most of Washington's electricity comes from carbon-clean hydropower from dams, some of our electricity is produced by coal-burning power plants in and out of Washington.
The new state carbon pledge focuses on several aspects of daily life, including: household and kitchen appliances, office equipment, yard care and personal transportation. It was created in cooperation with the City of Bellevue, which created the "Smaller Footprint Pledge" book early this year.
The Smaller Footprint Pledge, distributed to sixth-graders through a partnership with Puget Sound Energy's Powerful Choices program, takes a playful approach to a serious subject, with the "Carbon Yeti" demonstrating easy ways to cut carbon emissions around the house.
Washington is a leader in the fight against global climate change. The problem of climate change goes far beyond a change in the weather. Climate shapes everything -- ecosystems, crops, water, economy, lifestyles, health -- so even small changes can have important impacts. A few degrees in temperature may not feel like much, but it can make the difference between rain and snow, early snowmelt or late, flowing summer streams or dry creek beds.
Our state is vulnerable to a warming climate, especially our snow-fed water supplies and nearly 40 communities along our 2,300 miles of shoreline that are threatened by rising sea levels.
The state has a statutory goal of reducing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, reducing emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and reducing emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The Department of Ecology maintains a Climate Change Index to keep residents up to date on climate change strategies in Washington.
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