By Tom Crawford, TCAT President

Now that the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan (TCMP) is completed and in the hands of each of the partner jurisdictions (Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County), Thurston Climate Action Team has identified some specific actions contained in the TCMP it will work on and advocate for during 2021. I would like to share with you a little background on why we believe it is urgent for the Thurston region to act now, and the list of initiatives we intend to pursue during 2021.

Here’s the background. Two recent articles highlight the urgency of the climate crisis.  The first, by Dr. Andrew Garman, Professor of Health Systems Management at Rush University, is a November 23, 2020 article published in The Hill.  Dr. Garman points out how much more devastating climate change will be for human beings than the current COVID pandemic, pushing twice as many people into permanent poverty, and costing more than half a million adult lives annually due to food scarcity by 2050. To read the entire article, go here

The second article, from the UK-based scientific web site Carbon Brief, tells us that without significant actions now, the world will likely exceed 1.5 degree Celsius global average temperature increase between 2026 and 2042, a few years sooner than previously projected.  Beyond this threshold, climate related disasters get much more frequent and much worse. (Thanks to volunteer Wayne Olsen for calling this article to our attention. Thank you, Wayne!)
To read this article, go here

Here in the Thurston region, our GHG emissions continue to rise.  At the same time, to reach the targets on which the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan is based will require a 6% reduction in emissions every year from now until 2050.  The longer we wait to take action (implement policies, create incentives, organize and educate our residents and businesses), the more our emissions will continue to rise, and the deeper and more difficult will be the cuts required.

So what specific steps will TCAT be working on to respond to this emergency?  Thurston Climate Action Team will take on the following initiatives, oriented toward immediate action to bring down the Thurston region’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The TCAT Buildings as Climate Action Group will develop policy options for zero carbon buildings, followed by education and advocacy for local governments to adopt these policies. Policies will include:

  • Shift from fossil gas to all-electric buildings
  • Require energy performance upgrades or energy audits and disclosure at time of sale or renovation
  • Provide zero carbon building incentives
  • Encourage and support county implementation of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy and Resilience (C-PACER) financing

As a COVID recovery effort, we will also coordinate with local housing agencies to promote energy retrofits and solar for low-income & rental homes. 

The TCAT Trees Action Group has proposed and will educate and advocate for new policies and urban forestry plans which will both protect existing trees and encourage planting of more trees.
 
The TCAT Transportation Action Group will:

  • Expand its successful public education campaign to increase the rate of electric vehicle (EV) ownership and use. 
  • Pursue an EV group purchasing program 
  • Advocate for local building and energy code provisions promoting EV-ready buildings.

The TCAT Carbon Free Thurston campaign (our Advocacy group) will advocate for:

  • Adoption of a declaration of climate emergency by local governments
  • Use of a climate justice lens in all decisions made by local municipalities

We believe the Thurston region is ready for the initiatives described above. We look forward to working with the TCMP partners (Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County)  on all of these initiatives. If you’d like to get involved in this effort, contact me at  or Lynn Fitz-Hugh, 

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