Why is the Climate Mitigation Plan important and what can you do about it?

By Lynn Fitz-Hugh, TCAT’s Community Engagement Director

We are all aware that we have precious little time left to save this planet from unbearable global warming.  It is dismaying therefore to see Trump remove the US from the Paris Climate Accord.  However, the “We are Still in” movement has made the case that the changes the US had pledged to make under the Paris Accord have to be carried out on the local level – it is therefore essential that local municipalities continue to plan to reduce emissions.  We can be proud that Thurston County is working hard on just such a goal.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Carbon Free Thurston (CFT), together with Thurston Thrives’ Climate and Clean Energy action team, employed a variety of strategies to support the City of Olympia in bringing to the table the Cities of Lacey and Tumwater and Thurston County to collaborate in the development of a joint climate mitigation plan. By early 2018, all four jurisdictions had committed to and invested in Phase 1 planning, focused on the development of science-based reductions targets. This work was completed in July 2018, when all four jurisdictions adopted the agreed upon community-wide targets of a 45% reduction below 2015 GHG emission levels by 2030 and 85% below by 2050. All four governmental entities then further committed, including allocating financial resources to hire a consultant, to participate in the Phase II development of a Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan (TCMP) detailing how the GHG reduction targets will be achieved. The TCMP brings together benchmarking (i.e. tying actions to achieving measurable results), a regional approach, and what moderate size communities can do when they work together.

Development of the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan is now taking place. Final decisions and levels of specificity regarding what to include – or leave out – of the Plan (TCMP) are happening now.

The TCMP process has identified several sub areas they have focused on: 

  1. transportation and land use
  2. trees and agriculture
  3. water and waste
  4. buildings and energy

They have asked community members with expertise in these areas for input into these areas.  If your group works on issues in one of these areas it would be good to be aware of what is being proposed. Timelines, and the delineation of key actors and associated policy changes, will ultimately determine whether this proves to be simply a planning exercise or if it will achieve real change in the form of deep GHG emission cuts in the coming decades. This will require difficult decisions on the part of elected officials, and we expect resistance from various economic and political groups within the county, and perhaps outside the county.  It will require significant community education and grass-roots support to ensure its success.  And that is where you come in.

TCAT/CFT is committed to ensuring the TCMP process results in the creation and region wide adoption of a comprehensive, benchmarked plan that lays out a clear roadmap forward and can be used to hold elected officials and other leaders accountable for years to come.   In the months before the June passage of a plan we will need you to write letters to key elected officials, to potentially show up to hearings, and to encourage your unions and faith communities, etc. to write in support of the plan.  Stay tuned for more.

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