Climate mitigation refers to efforts to reduce the cause of climate change: greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions come from things we do every day. When we take transportation, use electricity or water, or grow and raise food we increase heat-trapping greenhouse gases that warm the planet. We will always need to do these things, so it’s important to find less harmful ways to do them and develop methods that remove carbon from the atmosphere and limit the impacts of climate change in the Thurston region.
The Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan has created strategies and actions to meet our combined climate goals.
How are greenhouse gas emissions measured? Where can I see the latest inventory?
There are several greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO₂) is main contributor to global climate change. Though not all human-generated emissions are carbon dioxide, annual inventories that measure greenhouse gas emissions often use carbon dioxide equivalents (CO₂e) as their unit of measurement. This equivalent is a unit of measurement that can be applied to all greenhouse gases, so that emissions of different gases can be added and compared.
How is the Thurston Region adapting to climate change?
In January 2018, TRPC adopted the Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan, which includes 91 actions to help the region prepare for and adjust to climate impacts. The national award-winning plan’s actions are the result of a science-based risk assessment and creative public-engagement strategy that includes an animated video and board game. Visit the Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan page to learn more.
The plan includes a shift to Electric Vehicles and Solar Energy - how will we account for the negative environmental impacts of batteries and other components?
The Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan relies on federal and state policies to support emissions reduction goals, and relies on federal action to lessen the environmental harms of solar systems and electric vehicles. Electric Vehicles primarily use lithium-ion batteries, which require the extraction of raw materials including lithium and cobalt. These extractions use a large amount of energy and water and can cause air contamination. While the entire lifecycle of an electric vehicle is considered less environmentally harmful than that of an internal combustion engine vehicle, there is still work to be done around recycling and reusing batteries and other materials. The U.S. Department of Energy established the ReCell Center in 2019 to support closed-loop recycling of lithium-ion batteries and embrace new uses such as in solar systems.
Solar panels use photovoltaics (PV) technologies to convert sunlight into electrical energy. The U.S. Department of Energy has released an action plan to efficiently manage PV systems as they come to the end of their useful life (usually 25-35 years), and combat the amount of solid waste generated by old PVs. Recycling processes for most of PV components already exist, but in the US the cost of recycling usually exceeds the cost of sending it to a landfill. This plan outlines research, data, and analysis efforts that will take place over the next five years to find better solutions for PVs as they age out of usefulness.