Ramping Up Local Governments’ Climate Action

By Tom Crawford, President, Thurston Climate Action Team, March 26, 2020

Local climate action must happen on multiple fronts.  One of the critical areas in which we need bold, dramatic action is public policy and investment.  As many of you already know, our local governments are already hard at work in this area, through the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan (TCMP).  Here’s an update on that effort.

The TCMP is a plan for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and unincorporated Thurston County to meet scientifically-based targets.  The Thurston Regional Planning Council is coordinating the work of the four jurisdictions on developing the plan, with the help of Cascadia Consulting Group.  The project is being guided by a Steering Committee (composed of elected officials and staff from each of the four jurisdictions) and supported by a Climate Advisory Workgroup (composed of over 30 local experts and community representatives).

A list of about 250 actions has been developed, in five broad areas:  buildings and energy, transportation, agriculture and forests, water and waste, and cross-cutting (general).  These actions have been ranked based on their ability to reduce GHG emissions, control local governments have over the action, speed of deployment, and other benefits (including health, economic, equity, and environmental benefits).  A smaller number of these actions (around 50) is being chosen for further quantitative analysis to help determine which of them will most effectively help us in Thurston County achieve the adopted emissions targets.

Unfortunately, the current coronavirus crisis is delaying this effort.  Most recently, the Steering Committee meeting scheduled for this Thursday, March 26th has been cancelled, due to elected officials’ focus on local communities’ immediate needs during this challenging time.  TRPC staff and consultants are continuing their analysis work and developing implementation steps.

At the same time, TCAT is facilitating discussions among some members of the Steering Committee about funding needed to implement the plan.  While recognizing that the current public health crisis is drastically reducing tax revenue to the cities and the county, the elected officials participating in these discussions are determined to find creative ways to make money available for climate work.

TCAT remains committed to ensuring that the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan is completed as soon as possible, and that we get started on meaningful climate action quickly.  We will be working with elected officials and TRPC to get this project back on track as quickly as possible.  Stay tuned for calls to action and alerts on this front!

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