PO Box 13324, Olympia, WA 98508 info@thurstonclimateaction.org

Thurston Climate Equity Project

Overview

In our latest initiative, TCAT is launching the Thurston Climate Equity Project, working with people who are disproportionately Impacted by climate disruption, including tribal communities, people of low income, people of color, and immigrants.  We will begin a dialogue with these communities about their needs as we face climate change, so that those needs are included in the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan that is currently being developed by Thurston County and the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater.

Outreach activities:

  1. We will talk with community representatives, coordinating a roundtable to share with each other their perspectives on climate change and climate solutions.
  2. We will build community networks and create strategies together. Examples of strategies could include no interest payment plans for energy efficiency programs or renewable energy, incentives for electric vehicles, and creating jobs for low income people in weatherization, solar installation, and reclamation of building materials.
  3. We will present proposals to local governments as part of the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan.
  4. Incorporating these proposals into the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan can increase cost savings of energy efficiency and access to green jobs for these communities while reducing the impact of pollution and warming temperatures on their everyday lives.

Project Description:

 Tribal communities, people of color, immigrants and people of low income are disproportionately impacted by climate disruption. This Project will work with these communities to craft policies that support their needs and help make their voices heard. In coordination with Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan (TCMP) outreach efforts, TCAT will reach out to and meet with all leaders from these communities to understand their concerns and their priorities relative to climate action. We will host dialogues among affected communities to develop their recommendations and proposals. These proposals will include both adaptation (protecting their communities from climate change impacts) and mitigation (e.g., full participation in transportation, clean energy and green jobs programs). Climate related crises that will require special focus for these communities include flooding, extreme heat, and smoke from forest fires, as impact is expected to be exacerbated by lack of access to resources.

Following are examples of questions we can discuss with community leaders for identification of mitigation strategies. Are new green jobs created with easy access for tribal members and disadvantaged groups? Will incentives for alternative energy provide access to low income people who could most benefit from energy savings? How can we reduce energy costs for low income people?  Is information about mitigation plans available in different languages?

Our goal is to assure these communities needs are included in the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plans.

Native American tribes and communities of color have often spoken out strongly about changes that they would like to see happen and their voices have not been heeded. TCAT will use its resources to lift up their voices and amplify their requests for change. We will work together with these communities to develop future strategies and collaborative efforts beyond this project. We have an advocacy work group called Carbon Free Thurston (CFT) that is working to influence the formation of the TCMP. In our outreach to disadvantaged groups we will both invite them to participate in CFT as well as carry messages into our work that come from our dialogues with these groups. This will result in a set of proposals and recommendations taken by representatives of these communities to local elected officials. They will also be used to help shape the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan.

In the white community we have often been raised with unconscious bias or systemic racism that leaves us with huge blind spots when it comes to equity issues in planning. In order to prepare TCAT’s white staff and volunteers to do this work well, along with the TCMP Steering Committee and its Climate Advisory Work Group, some additional training on racism and equity issues is needed. We therefore intend to hold two trainings, one for the public and one for TCMP Committee members.