Transportation emissions in the state of Washington make up about 40% of our total greenhouse gas emissions profile. That’s me driving to the dentist, you dropping your kids off at school, the UW student taking the bus and the truck driver on his route. Getting from point A to point B is our state’s largest share of emissions. That’s one of the reasons we supported a multi-modal transportation package earlier this year; to reduce emissions, we need a better flow of traffic so we’re not idling and we should encourage alternatives such as mass transit and increased bike paths. But, at the same time, we need to acknowledge that our cars and trucks are still a major component of the transportation mix, and will be for the foreseeable future. So, what can be done to decrease emissions from traditional modes of transportation?
In Washington, we as a state have embraced electric vehicles. Although adoption is slow, the state is encouraging more users by increasing charging stations to help drivers get further on less gas. In fact, Washington ranks first in the nation in electric vehicle charging stations per capita. We’re on the right track.
But, our businesses are contributing, too. The solution doesn’t stop with what the government can do. We can, and should, all be involved in our state’s success. That’s why businesses such as Alaska Airlines are testing alternative fuels such as biofuels for flights, or shipping companies such as Saltchuk are retrofitting their vessels to run on liquefied natural gas. They agree that something needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions and they are finding the way that works for them.
Take PACCAR, a Seattle-based company founded in 1905. This is a company that is deeply rooted in Washington, having fabricated the steel for the Space Needle and played a major role in the construction of Grand Coulee’s third powerhouse. While the company has a deep history, they are looking forward.
Environmental protection is one of PACCAR’s core values and runs through their company from the line to the highway. In the design process, they use a software tool called EcoDesign to ensure their trucks are built to help reduce emissions. This includes using lighter materials to reduce fuel consumption and increasing recyclability of truck parts. They’re also a market leader in using liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) to power their trucks. Switching to natural gas reduces carbon emissions by 20%.
PACCAR isn’t just guessing at its emissions reductions. In fact, it is a member of CDP, a global organization dedicated to measuring and benchmarking climate data to help companies plan for and better project their carbon goals. Since 1990, PACCAR’s efforts have netted a 31% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our state’s environmental ethos doesn’t stop at an individual level. Our companies agree that continued reduction in carbon emissions is good for their business, their customers and their employees. Competitive markets will continue to drive Washington business towards enhancing the environment.