On climate, there is no time to waste

By: Lisa Parshley - Olympia Councilmember

Jim Cooper was my climate partner from Olympia during the crafting of the regional climate plan. I support Jim because he is a proven leader in climate.

In nine years, our planet will cross a line from which we may never recover, a point of no return in climate. Our region, country, and world has already seen clear signs of this change, including long seasons of catastrophic wildfires, hazardous air quality for the entire west coast, and in some areas, lasting health impacts on our community. Climate is and will be an emergency that intersects with all our other crises facing our nation, state, and local jurisdictions.

In response to this very real existential threat, our region agreed we would reduce our carbon footprint by 45% of 2015 values by 2030, and 85% by 2050. To achieve these goals, the four major jurisdictions in Thurston County, community stakeholders, and community members worked to develop the climate mitigation plan. In February 2021, all four jurisdictions accepted the Thurston County Climate Mitigation plan, and three of the four jurisdictions declared a climate emergency (Tumwater, Olympia, and the County).

Our plan focuses on five central themes to achieve our goals:

  1. Greening our grid (generation of electricity with 100% renewable sources and increased energy efficiency in homes and businesses)
  2. Shifting energy sources (more electric appliances and electric vehicles),
  3. Living lighter (densifying our neighborhoods, getting out of cars, and reducing food waste and other waste)
  4. Storing carbon (preserving tree canopy while planting trees, pre- serving farmlands, and encouraging regenerative farmlands preserving prairies), and
  5. Building local capacity and resilience (coordinated regional leadership, monitoring greenhouse gasses, monitoring progress on goals, and factor in funding and supporting green economy).

All of our goals can be divided into four levels of responsibility: state level legislation, regional coordinated efforts, in the local jurisdictions, and within the community. In our plan, all actions at all levels of responsibility must consider equity, as those most impact from climate will be people of color, marginalized communities, and low-income families. Lastly, costs of achieving these goals will need to be distributed equally and equitably in our region.

In nine years, we will cross a climate line we cannot afford to cross. To ensure future generations will have a habitable planet, we must elect leaders like Jim who are bold and courageous. We need leaders who are willing to take the necessary actions outlined in our climate mitigation plan.