Zoom Chat - King County's Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP), Robin Briggs, October 24, 2021

Scott Henson
Scott Henson
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Resources Shared During our Discussion:

  • King Country's Strategic Action Plan (SCAP).  King County’s Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP)  is a five-year blueprint for County climate action, integrating climate change into all areas of County operations and work with King County cities, partners, communities, and residents. The SCAP outlines King County’s priorities and commitments for climate action to residents and partners.
  • Drawdown Solutions: Sectors.  While we shared the link to solutions on transportation, it can be helpful to get an idea of how the Project Drawdown team has modeled and characterized some of our favorite solutions (like electric bicycles, Waste-to-Energy, recycling, Landfill methane capture, or buildings which were all discussed).  It's nice to see how it fits into the larger sectors of society that all need to be transformed.
  • SeattleClimate.org.    Support group collaboration to promote a Green New Deal & greenhouse gas emission (GHGE) reduction in Seattle & King County in order to:
  1. More easily share our research & policy development work to reduce overlapping efforts / benefit from one another's work.
  2. Coordinate our climate  lobbying efforts to increase our impacts
  • Renewable Energy Credits (Seattle's Green Up Program).  Green Up is a voluntary renewable energy program that allows you to support Pacific Northwest wind, solar and other renewable energy projects generating carbon-free energy. When you participate in Green Up, we purchase regional renewable energy credits (RECs) on your behalf and fund local rooftop solar projects hosted by not-for-profits and public organizations like affordable housing, schools, and parks. 
  • CoolClimate.  CoolClimate provides smart decision-making tools and programs to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. We develop cutting-edge carbon footprint benchmarking research and combine this with ongoing lessons from behavioral sciences to design tailored climate solutions to different users and populations. CoolClimate tools quickly identify the unique opportunities each individual, business, organization or community holds to reduce greenhouse gas emisions. These tools are incorporated into programs to activate, educate, motivate and empower individuals and organizations to make low-carbon choices. CoolClimate also works with Network Members to design policies and programs that meet local needs and motivate populations to take climate action.
  • Methane's Impact on the Climate Crisis (Interactive).  Let a molecule of carbon dioxide escape into the atmosphere, and it stays for centuries. There’s more than enough up there to smother the planet like a too-warm quilt, trapping heat within and weirding the weather. The damage will be felt for generations. But CO2 is only part of the patchwork of warming. Methane locks in far more heat in the short term and has been leaking just as relentlessly.
  • Climate GIFs.  Stacey Smedley's site dedicated to animated images to help explain what is happening with respect to greenhouse gas emissions.  Stacey is a sustainability leader focused on embodied carbon in the built environment (buildings) and is the Executive Director of the non-profit organizations Building Transparency that is focused on empowering people in the building industry better account for their impact to the environment based on the actual materials they use before the building becomes operational (especially concrete and steel).   
  • Zero Waste Washington. Zero Waste Washington drives policy change for a healthy and waste-free world.  Zero Waste Washington drives policy change for a healthy and waste-free world.  Here is their report on reducing organic materials management in our waste streams which would then help address methane emissions.
  • The Zero Waste utopia and the role of waste-to-energy. While there is no doubt that the prevention of municipal solid waste (MSW) generation should sit at the top of any public policy, industrial strategy and individual behaviour, just like reducing the consumption of energy, this proposition might mislead the public into thinking that waste can suddenly disappear if only we had the will to make it happen. 
  • Nitrous Oxide and Climate Change (Drawdown Summary). During our discussion, the topic of Nitrous Oxide and fertilizers was brought up.  Nitrogen fertilizers have vastly improved the productive capacity of agricultural systems in the past century. Some of the synthetic nitrogen is taken up by crops, increasing growth and yield. The nitrogen that is not utilized by plants, however, causes untold problems.
  • Joint US-EU Press Release on the Global Methane Pledge. The United States and European Union announced today the Global Methane Pledge, an initiative to reduce global methane emissions to be launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November in Glasgow.  President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged countries at the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate to join the Pledge and welcomed those that have already signaled their support. RELATED:  Opening remarks by Executive Vice-President Timmermans on the Global Methane Pledge.
  • Simplicity Home Energy (Future Speaker - Bob Greenspun!). Given all of our conversations on what each of us can do in our homes, we shared this link to Bob's company who focuses on helping each of us create more efficient (and therefore a lighter impact to the planet) home.  
  • Beyond Plastics.  Launched in January 2019, Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of college students to build a vibrant and effective anti-plastics movement. Our mission is to end plastic pollution by being a catalyst for change at every level of our society. We use our deep policy and advocacy expertise to build a well-informed, effective movement seeking to achieve the institutional, economic, and societal changes needed to save our planet, and ourselves, from the plastic pollution crisis.
  • Dr. Jud Brewer (and Unwinding Anxiety)  Dr. Jud is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor in Behavioral and Social Sciences at the School of Public Health and Psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University, as well as a research affiliate at MIT. Before that, he held research and teaching positions at Yale University and the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness.  

Chat Log:

00:15:12 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Thank you for coming Robin, we all appreciate your time and energy on this!
00:16:38 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): https://www.seattleclimate.org
00:17:33 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Our talk and resources from today will be posted here after:  https://drawdownseattle.org/conversations/
00:19:57 JimL: Basecamp Opt-In Link 
Basecamp Opt-In Link 
00:20:36 JimL: Email if you would like a one-to-one Zoom on how to use Basecamp.  littlejamesw@gmail.com
00:21:44 Chris Meinig: Jim, you are awesome, thanks for offering to help all on basecamp.   I remember when you suggested it >2yrs ago now.
00:28:56 Don Parda: If we consumed less of Seattle City Light's green electricity, it could be made available  on the Western (about 10 states?) electric grid to replace some of the non-green electricity being used on the Western electric grid.
00:30:05 Thor Olson: How many tons of CO2 does this chart represent?
00:31:55 Kemper Lee: What is a renewable energy credit?
00:32:02 Kemper Lee: novice here
00:32:45 Thor Olson: 2015 data.  What is the rate of increase?
00:34:11 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): @Kemper Lee:  Here is info on REC (Renewable Energy Credits) from the Seattle City Light site: http://www.seattle.gov/city-light/residential-services/home-energy-solutions/renewable-energy-credits
00:34:25 JimL: Cool Climate Network, UC Berkeley
00:35:08 JimL: https://coolclimate.org/index  San Francisco Bay area consumption-based emissions
00:35:27 Chris Meinig: Stacy Smedley has some great animations on understanding emissions.  I use these in my talks(w/accredation) and she makes them available to all: https://www.climategifs.com/
00:37:57 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): This chart is awesome because you can see how impactful the legislation is (theoretically) in the future, nice!
00:38:28 Thor Olson: Good chart.  Nice to see the "cost" estimate per CO2 savings.
00:39:07 Sarah H: For the wedge chart, what are the assumptions about population growth over that time period?
00:39:08 Suellen Mele: To learn about an excellent approach to decreasing methane generation at our landfills and getting excess food to hungry people by reducing organic material sent to landfills, check out Zero Waste Washington’s recent report, https://zerowastewashington.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/WA-Organic-Waste-Mgmt_Zero-Waste-WA-May-2021.pdf.
Zero Waste WA is supporting a bill in the 2022 legislative session to take significant steps in that direction. Their website is: zerowastewashington.org
00:40:11 Don Parda: Speaking of Seattle's green electricity advantage (hydroelectric dams), we are gong to be increasingly out-pacing that advantage as population increases and there are "new" demands for electricity (electric vehicles, electric rather than gas building heating...).
00:40:25 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Here is an interactive graph on Methane so you can see its Global Warming potential over time:
00:40:26 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2021-methane-impact-on-climate/
00:42:00 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/nutrient-management/technical-summary
00:43:10 Don Parda: Big picture, eating a plant-based diet generates far less GHG emissions per meal. My understanding is cows are by far the big GHG  offenders
00:43:47 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Here is the less technical summary of this particular solution as well on No2: https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/nutrient-management
00:43:59 Jeff Berner (he/him): Sorry I'm late.
00:44:18 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Glad you made it Jeff, welcome! :)
00:46:51 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/18/joint-us-eu-press-release-on-the-global-methane-pledge/
00:47:15 Suellen Mele: I see waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration as a controversial and false solution. When burned, all the carbon in our garbage - including plastics, wood and paper, lawn clippings and food scraps - is immediately released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Plastic is derived from fossil fuel, so burning plastic releases fossil carbon.
00:48:09 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/commissioners/2019-2024/timmermans/announcements/opening-remarks-executive-vice-president-timmermans-global-methane-pledge_en
00:48:27 Don Parda: Keep in mind buses, unless they are electric/hydrogen, still omit a lot of GHC - far bigger offenders than bicycles and walking.
00:49:50 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: Suellen - See White House Press Release re GHG issue from landfills. And then second from EU commissions in achieving reductions from GHGs by phasing out landfills even with WtE in place.
00:50:34 Suellen Mele: Recycling is much better for the environment than either burning or burying. By using recycled feedstock for manufacturing instead of extracting virgin resources, recycling typically saves 3 to 5 times as much energy as can be generated by burning solid waste. But incinerators compete with recycling for the same materials. They need to burn materials with high calorific value, which are the same materials collected in recycling programs: paper, cardboard, and some plastics. We can either recycle that waste or burn it - not both.
00:50:46 Thor Olson: Good question on the people who cannot afford an electric car.  They are getting crushed by the rise in housing prices.
00:51:44 Suellen Mele: Incinerators typically require a “put or pay” contract that commits jurisdictions to deliver a minimum quantity of solid waste. Once an incinerator is built, it needs to be fed. Where incinerators operate, they burn a lot of recyclables and compostables. Let’s not give up on recycling!
00:52:57 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: Not a clean-cut regarding recycling as recycling can get very complex and like in the US where a lot of recycling quality is rather poor this stuff that you think gets recycled end up in landfill after all the processing thus adding GHGs. Recycling quality needs significant improvements and we need to develop in conjunction regulations that require to use recycled materials.
00:53:15 Jeff Berner (he/him): My experience with my own EV is that we need to install Level 3 fast chargers exclusively. Most of our EV charging infrastructure is the cheaper to install Level 2 chargers.
00:53:24 Don Parda: I suspect most of us would be astonished by how much of our transportation we could do by bicycle. I certainly was. I've found I've been able to get along without a car for the past 1 1/2 years. Incidentally, I'm 75 years old - with the blessing of decent health, age doesn't preclude bicycling.
00:54:03 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: Already posted this article with my talk and this is science not fiction: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0734242X20918453
00:54:34 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): On the bike front, here is the Drawdown view on e-bikes: https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/electric-bicycles
00:55:41 Jeff Berner (he/him): I agree on e-bikes and e-scooters. We don't discuss how e-bikes are a game changer, especially in hilly Seattle region.
00:55:47 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: An IWMS is key that is build on the waste management hierarchy so only what is left after avoidance, recycling and recover is not landfilled but treated appropriately by state of the art WTE - no landfilling.
00:55:48 Don Parda: I'm using a non-electric bicycle. I put on about 2.5 milers per day.
00:55:55 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): “This solution could reduce 1.3–4.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions and save e-bike owners US$304–941 billion in first costs and US $610–$1,870 billion in lifetime operating costs.” (Yes…nearly $2T in savings over lifetime)
00:56:43 nathalie: some ebikes are illegal in France except if you have a proper license. They belong to the same group as mopeds , etc..
00:56:48 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: Thanks for posting Scott - very intresting
00:57:10 Thor Olson: The only problem with electric heat and stoves is when the power goes off due to a storm.
00:57:33 nathalie: is gas better for heat and cooking?
00:57:36 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: As soon as the electric bike exceeds the legal limit of 25 km / h, it is no longer legally considered as an electric bike, but as a speed bike in France. The latter whose speed limit is capped at 45 km / h are subject to different regulations.
00:57:38 nathalie: energy wise
00:58:38 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Here are all the transportation solutions: https://www.drawdown.org/sectors/transportation
00:59:22 nathalie: I heard that Northwest was promoting gas energy...
00:59:33 nathalie: as a solution to substainability
00:59:34 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): We have just gone “all in” on heat pumps as well - HVAC, dryer for clothes (When used), and hot water for the house.  No more natural gas!
01:00:17 nathalie: Can you talk about difference between gas versus electric ? I am a bit confused with what I am reading
01:00:21 sheilalynch: I have been told that in Seattle you can’t just rely on a heat pump for heat, you need a furnace as a backup in case it gets too cold for the heat pump to work.  Is that true?
01:00:44 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Natural Gas is not a good long term option for tackling climate change.  It might be “less bad” but the fugitive methane emissions from the extraction and distribution of fossil or methane gas (other names for "natural gas") and the CO2 that results from burning and the health impacts of natural gas are all problematic.
01:01:13 nathalie: thanks
01:01:16 Chris Meinig: not the case for us, the back up when below 30F is elect heat strips, not as efficient as heat pump, but nice heat.
01:01:42 Greg Stinson: Regarding low temperature heat pump:  The new ones have a technology that provide heating down to -5 or -10 F.  The Mitsubishi is called “Hyperheat”.  Our lowest temperature in the past 5 years is 18 F
01:02:04 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Yes to what Greg said, we have a hyper heat system as well..
01:02:06 Greg Stinson: The heating they provide with hyper heat remains much more efficient than electric heat strips
01:03:12 Jeff Berner (he/him): @sheilalynch. Mitsubishi has a heatpump called "Hyperheat" that works down to -17F. Other heat pumps which use conventional refrigeration cycles are good to 20F.
01:03:13 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Also, this will be recorded so if you need to come back to the recording, it will be made available.
01:04:52 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): For those that might be interested in what you can do to make your home more efficient, a few of us have partnered with Bob Greenspun (who will be speaking with us soon): http://simplicityhomeenergy.com/
01:06:05 Don Parda: Realizing that there is a significant percentage of residents who will not be getting heat pumps or resistance electric heat for quite a while, we should be promoting GreenBetween 55°F and 85°F - not heating about 55°F and no cooling below 85°F. Yes this is very doable. Humankind has survived just fine without "set the thermostat to 70°F" up until about the past 100 years. I've been doing it for years. My mom (almost 97 years old when she dies) did an earlier version of it (60°F to 80°F). Dress warmer or cooler to accommodate the wider temperature range.
01:06:25 nathalie: where will conversation be available. I would like to let my condo association and residents hear this.
01:07:54 Kemper Lee: I would imagine cutting your carbon footprint would be a killer incentive
01:10:05 Suellen Mele: Greg, thanks for that recycling link. I’ll take a look!
01:10:25 nathalie: What a great point!
01:10:53 Suellen Mele: I’ve been reading information about how the petrochemical industry is counting on continuing to use oil and gas by increasing the production of plastics and toxic chemicals made from fossil fuels. CO2 from incinerators will increase as plastics in our waste stream increases.
Check out this new report by Beyond Plastics: https://www.beyondplastics.org/plastics-and-climate.  It includes an important section on the impact of burning plastic. From the report: “The burning of plastics made in the U.S. already releases an estimated 15 million tons of greenhouse gasses.”
01:11:33 Sarah H: Does "growth" refer to number of people, or number of buildings?
01:13:51 Don Parda: Associated with reduced parking  minimums should be prohibitions in vehicle ownership without proof of provisions for parking the vehicle.
01:14:52 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: While the report Beyond Plastics - it is missing critical information about the impacts which will be significantly larger by landfilling than WTE. ‘Sequestration’ of plastics is a push by the landfill industry. Don’t fall for it.
01:15:43 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: And yes, plastic is not a good idea. Less plastic is better and should not justify WTE operations.
01:21:48 Suellen Mele: When plastic is put in landfills, it is sequestered. When burned, it releases COs.
01:23:46 nathalie: improving and developing bike trails
01:23:53 Don Parda: "Less Now, More Later" - less heating, less cooling, less driving, less flying, less meat-eating, less procreation (2 children max)" essentially has no costs to distract from other programs. https://greenbetween.home.blog/
01:23:56 JimL: Several articles on consumption-based GHG inventories:
01:24:00 JimL: https://hotorcool.org/1-5-degree-lifestyles-report/
01:24:12 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): https://maritimeblue.org
01:24:22 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): I just put it in for you Chris :)
01:24:25 Tierney: Thank you.
01:24:35 JimL: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/4k19r6z7
01:24:44 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: Plastic breaks down in landfills and landfill leachate contains lots of micro and nano plastics in the leachate that are not removed and enter back into our waterways. Plastics also react with other chemicals and from new even more toxic slurries that are released back into the environment.
01:25:21 Chris Meinig: https://maritimeblue.org/
01:26:24 Jeff Berner (he/him): @Suellen. Burning plastic for energy may displace other fossil fuels though. We need to discuss this more.
01:28:10 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: A number of WTE facilties in Europe power ships that doc, power light rail, power a number of other energy infrastructures as part of the solution landfills are minimal in comparison  and are phased out by law due to the environmental pollution and danger to humans. The landfill industry has you fooled. They are traded on wall street just like oil and gas and need to be defunded.
01:29:32 Suellen Mele: WTE incinerators emit cancer-causing, endocrine- and immune-disrupting dioxins and furans as well as ultrafine particles that bypass the pollution control equipment. They also release acidic gases, nitrogen oxides, mercury, lead and more. Only a small number of pollutant emissions are continuously monitored.
01:30:14 Jeff Berner (he/him): When I was traveling in Italy, I found out that there were laws as to when one could actually heat your home. In Rome, it is November 1st to April 15th, 12 hours/day.
01:31:27 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: Landfills are way worse. You might be referring to older WTE facilities. Especially new WtE are not an issue. Landfills are much worse that is scientific fact.
01:33:31 Jeff Berner (he/him): @Don. The US birthrate is at replacement levels, less than 2.1 children per woman. US population growth is entirely due to immigration.
01:35:40 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Dr. Brewer’s work is amazing @Jae!
01:36:09 sheilalynch: I have to go but thanks Robin for the presentation!  Very educational.
01:36:12 Suellen Mele: We need to be moving to something more sustainable than either landfills or incinerators. Why put money and other resources into new incineratores (especially when they will compete with recycling) when we should be putting money and resources into prevention and recycling?
01:36:14 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): https://drjud.com/
01:36:30 Jae Geller: Thank you so much, Robin!
01:36:43 Suellen Mele: Thanks so much for all you are doing, Robin!
01:36:58 Chris Meinig: thank you Robin!
01:37:11 IeRM P. Schmidt-Pathmann: WTE does not compete with recycling. WTE enables more recycling especially over landfilling.
01:38:14 nathalie: thank you so much for this.
01:38:23 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Yes, thank you Robin
01:38:24 nathalie: yes !
01:38:25 Rhean Souders: Thank you!
01:38:28 nathalie: merci