Washington’s Decisive Decade:
An Emerging Roadmap for Transportation Decarbonization & Cleaner Air
With the transportation sector accounting for 45% of the state’s emissions, it will receive the majority of upcoming investments from the Climate Commitment Act (CCA). We are firmly in the Decisive Decade for transportation decarbonization in Washington.
- Where can we best invest CCA funds to both reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality?
- Which projects will provide the strongest return on investment?
- What metrics can we use to objectively prioritize opportunities?
Building Back Better:
Investing in a Resilient Recovery for Washington State
This report analyzes the potential jobs and community health benefits created by a sample portfolio of investments in Washington State. We find that investing in clean transportation, forest conservation and ecosystem restoration, clean energy, water and energy efficiency, low carbon agriculture, and sustainable industry supports over ten jobs per million dollars invested. By comparison, the state’s ten largest industries support 4.3 jobs per million dollars invested. Additionally, we find that every million dollars invested in these programs accrues $2.4 million in clean air and climate benefits. These findings can help state policymakers design an economic recovery plan in response to the COVID-19 crisis that maximizes both job creation and the long-term health of Washington communities.
Rural Economic Development
Rural Washington communities are experiencing demographic transformation as economies based on natural resources face greater regulatory challenges and slimmer margins. Washington’s forests absorb as much as 30% of our state’s carbon emissions annually, and working forests sustain the state’s third largest manufacturing industry. Our forests are experiencing more prevalent and catastrophic wildfire. Pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and locking it away in wood products, managed forests, and soils can boost rural economies while improving carbon outcomes. Other opportunities favoring rural economies include leveraging low-carbon public utility power resources for low carbon manufacturing, more suitable zero-carbon generating capacity locations, and opportunities for advanced biofuel production.
Transportation Electrification and Congestion Relief
The transportation sector dominates as the largest share of Washington’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions profile. Light-duty vehicles are one-third of total statewide CO2 emissions with an annual fuel cost of $13 billion, $9 billion of which is wasted as heat loss. Fully leveraging Washington’s hydro-based and low-cost electricity to electrify light-duty vehicles could reduce consumer fueling costs and wasted energy by three-fourths (75%). The population is forecast to grow 25% through 2040, placing increased strain on the efficiency of supply chains in urban areas, where passenger vehicles and commercial freight compete for roadways. Carbon reduction through electrification and enhanced multimodal transportation as part of a broader Automated, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) vehicles agenda can enable decreases in congestion and increases in quality of life.
Carbon Reduction Investments
LCP Institute research into Marginal Cost Abatement Curves intends to answer the question about the availability and cost-effectiveness of investment opportunities within Washington State. Incentives can complement private funds to accelerate market transformation and distribute the risk of making investment in low carbon alternatives. Incentive programs based on pay-for-performance criteria (e.g. a technology neutral competitive marketplace purchasing reductions on a $/ton basis) offer a more effective mechanism for reliable success than incentives focused on co-benefits without clear abatement goals. Private and utility investment is determined through a process that accounts for reliability, cumulative emissions impacts, and cost-sensitivity. Entrepreneurs who can leverage new technology and efficiency improvements which align with these various requirements stand to profit handsomely in a lower carbon future.
Energy Waste and Efficient Carbon Use
Money spent on energy that does not go to productive use, also known as “energy waste” costs our state economy $13 billion each year. The opportunity is to recognize and seize on projects that may require a higher upfront investment, but lead to lower operating costs and less risk exposure to fossil fuel price volatility and supply disruption. A prioritization framework for efficient carbon use is: (1) Promote carbon avoidance solutions (ie, density planning decreases the need for energy consumption), (2) Consume energy efficiently (ie, reuse wasted thermal energy), (3) Shift to lower carbon fuels (ie, replace combustion with high-efficiency electric technologies), and (4) Efficient supply of fuels (prioritize plentiful in-state resources and avoid reliance on a single fuel source supply).
Innovation and Economic Opportunity
Worldwide, $329 Billion was invested in advanced energy in 2015. Estimates suggest Washington’s share of the CleanTech sector could reach $60 billion annually by mid-century. Future outcomes will be the result of decisions we are making today on deploying long-life items, plus research in laboratories, and innovations producing future game-changing inventions. A strong innovation ecosystem with predictable incentives and public private partnership provides the best shot at seizing the full scale of the economic opportunity. Aggressive research and development can help resolve system challenges and avoid longer-term lock-in of carbon emissions.