Building on the strategy and work of the Thurston Thrives Climate & Clean Energy work group, as well as related efforts by Thurston County, Thurston Regional Planning Council and other partners, the Thurston County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to do their part to keep the global average temperature from rising more than 2°C. This is a milestone in the effort to prevent major impacts to the long-term health of this community and to ensure sustained prosperity.
Record heat, and an increase in the number and strength of storms has been in the news all over the country, regardless of the season. The majority of scientific research ties these changes to Climate Change—a global shift in our climate due to human activities, such as burning coal, petroleum and other carbon-intensive fuels.
In fact, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are accelerating global climate change and resulting in local impacts, including sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and more frequent and intense heavy precipitation events, floods, droughts, and wildfires.
On a larger scale, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that the United States and other industrialized countries need to reduce emissions in the range of 80-95 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases at 450 parts per million. In addition, the IPCC concluded that hitting the stabilization target will likely keep the global average temperature from rising 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, to avoid more severe climate impacts. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's "Paris Agreement," which the United States and other nations brokered in late 2015, also includes the 2°C goal.
Earlier this year, the Board agreed to participate in Phase 1 of a Climate Mitigation Planning Project. This project aimed to establish common goals and start a plan to specify needed local actions and steps for a collaborative effort among Thurston County and local cities and partners to help prevent Climate Change.
Thurston County, together with the Thurston Thrives partnership for community health improvement, is concerned about the economic, public health, and environmental impacts of climate change on all communities in the region. The County Commissioners, along with Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater policymakers, signed an inter-local agreement in April 2018 to complete Phase 1 of a regional climate mitigation plan. The goal of Phase 1 was to identify common, community-wide emissions-reduction targets to be used in Phase 2. The goal of Phase 2 is to develop an implementation strategy and timeline for each jurisdiction to meet those targets.
The Phase 1 project team, which included staff members from the partnering local Thurston County jurisdictions, presented their conclusions to the Thurston County Board of Commissioners at briefings this summer. To do their part to reduce climate change, the Thurston County region must reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 2015 levels by 2030, and 85 percent below 2015 levels by 2050.
The Thurston County Board of County Commissioners will next consider whether to invest in the second phase of the climate mitigation planning effort. Phase 2 will present the opportunity for a future inter-local agreement.
To view the plan visit: https://www.trpc.org/909/Regional-Climate-Mitigation-Plan.