Climate Solutions' mission and achievements
Climate Solutions works to accelerate practical and profitable solutions to global warming by galvanizing leadership, growing investment and bridging divides.
Since 1998, Climate Solutions has pioneered the vision and cultivated political leadership in the Northwest for the proposition that clean energy and broadly-shared economic prosperity can go hand-in-hand. Through our Business Leaders, New Energy Cities, and Harvesting Clean Energy programs, Climate Solutions builds a powerful constituency for local, regional and national action on climate and clean energy.
2012 Highlights and Accomplishments
Leading the Northwest in Climate and Clean Energy Policy
- Supported Oregon Governor Kitzhaber’s strong plans for energy effciency while calling on him to be more explicit about climate and the need to continue our transition off of coal generation.Convened, coordinated and coalesced with public interest allies and the business community around the development and release of the Governor Kitzhaber’s draft 10 Year Energy Action Plan.
- Worked with a coalition of clean energy advocates to preserve the integrity of Washington State’s Clean Energy Initiative, I-937, during the 2012 legislative session, as well as holding off other anti-climate efforts like elimination of the State Energy Office and greenhouse gas reporting program.
- Helped drive adoption of the first-ever carbon emission performance standards for new power plants at the federal level. This national standard, modeled after and inspired by our ground-breaking emission performance standards in Oregon, Washington and California, effectively precludes development of new coal-fired power plants.
- Advanced sustainable aviation fuels with the passage of a bill to continue the diverse stakeholder group originally convened by Climate Solutions and provide easier access to capital for producing sustainable aviation fuels in Washington. We are continuing to build support and momentum for appropriate policy at the state and federal level.
- Helped win new national standards that will double the fuel economy of new passenger vehicles by 2025. The adoption of these national standards was part of a coordinated, long-term national strategy that included building momentum with Clean Car laws in the states, and supporting adoption of federal standards under existing administrative authority.
Making the Clean Energy Economy Real
- Launched an ongoing program to support development of renewable and low carbon jet fuels following very strong response to the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFNW) report of 2011, and a continued support from industry, nonprofit and governmental stakeholders. We’ve gone global with our Sustainable Aviation Fuels eﬀorts, participating in advanced biofuel “roadmapping” projects from Brazil to Scandinavia. In partnership with Boeing, Climate Solutions is engaging with other leading aviation biofuel industry development processes, sharing lessons learned and gaining new perspectives.
- Released a new report on 34 small- to medium-sized US communities pioneering a wide range of innovative clean energy solutions. Publication of Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up: Profiles in City-Led Clean Energy Innovation followed an 11-month study of city-led clean energy innovation.
- Conducted New Energy City workshops with resulting action plans in Hillsboro, Oregon and Boise, Idaho.
- Coordinated the Northwest Biocarbon Initiative (NBI), in partnership with several leading conservation groups, to highlight the essential role that nature can play in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, an urgent need in addition to the rapid transition from fossil fuels. We recruited over thirty Innovation Partners who are pioneering biocarbon best practices on farmlands, forests, and in our communities, exemplifying the key principle that the best biocarbon practices have multiple benefits. Microsoft invited the NBI team to be an advisor to its program to achieve carbon neutrality in its business operations.
- Built support across bipartisan divides for clean energy tax credits, including the federal Production Tax Credit for wind energy.
Building the Power of the Climate and Clean Energy Movement
- Said NO to coal exports from Northwest ports. We continued our work as a central partner in the Power Past Coal effort to stop coal export off the West Coast. The proposed Grays Harbor proposal was shelved and not a single permit has been issued on the other five. We helped organize 40 Coal Hard Truth forums along the rail lines in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. More than 28 local government entities, 560 health providers, nearly 600 business leaders and 200 faith leaders have sent leaders to decision makers expressing concerns or requesting some kind of action in relation to these proposals.
- Continued to bring business leaders across the region into the clean energy policy discussion. In Oregon, we provided briefings for business leaders on the Governor’s 10 Year Energy Plan and engaged business leaders in participating in the comment period. Additionally, we provided policy briefings for our business leaders network in both Oregon and Washington and strengthened relationships with our growing network of business leaders as preparation for the 2013 legislative sessions.
- Led an effort to engage the military in clean economy issues and brought clean economy and military leaders together on several different occasions to share information, network, and work together to accomplish our mutual goals. Additionally, we have engaged with military leadership in Puget Sound and Oregon to identify the best ways for cleantech companies to work with the military to explore business opportunities.
- Garnered key coverage of climate change and clean energy issues. In 2012, we generated a lot of top news stories for our priority issues, notably many national outlets covering coal export oﬀ the West Coast including TIME magazine and The Seattle Times running an opinion piece by KC Golden and former EPA Administrator Bill Ruckelshaus, and Puget Sound Business Journal running an opinion piece by Swedish Hospital’s Lee Brei and our own Ross Macfarlane. Outlets across the country and closer to home covered the release of our New Energy Cities program’s Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up report. Huffington Post covered mileage-based insurance and several outlets including Wall Street Journal Market Watch and Think Progress wrote about our Solutions Stories.
- Received national recognition:
--KC Golden, our Policy Director, was awarded the Heinz Award for Public Policy for his lifetime achievement as a climate advocate and policy architect.
--Jabe Blumenthal, our Board co-chair, received the Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellows Award.
--Climate Solutions was selected by Guidestar’s Philanthropedia as one of the nation’s 18 high-impact nonprofits working in the field of climate change, and the only regional organization on the list.
- Headlined top leadership. Our 4th Annual Breakfast in Seattle featured Lisa P. Jackson, EPA Administrator and our 4th Annual Dinner in Portland featured David Bragdon, NYC Mayor Bloomberg Administration.
2011 Highlights and Accomplishments
Public Policy Leadership
- Worked with a broad coalition to end the use of coal for electricity in Washington: We successfully negotiated an agreement and legislation to phase out Washington’s only large coal-fired power plant in Centralia and were active in the direct negotiations with the plant’s owners and workers. We worked closely with the community to develop broadly endorsed transition plans and community investments.
- Defended key financing for clean energy in Oregon: We brought together a diverse coalition of clean-energy partners to defend clean-energy financing in Oregon and successfully preserved a key part of the Business Energy Tax Credit in the 2011 legislative session.
- Protected the regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act: In Oregon we built political support for the Oregon federal delegation to defend the EPA and the Clean Air Act. In Montana, we developed historic inroads and partnerships between labor and businesses working together to protect this keystone law. We also launched a significant effort to engage Montana business leaders to submit opinion pieces to media across the state, attend public events and to call and email the state’s two senators to encourage them to remain strong.
- Held the line on Washington’s clean-energy initiative: We worked with a coalition of clean-energy advocates to preserve the integrity of Washington State’s Clean Energy Initiative, I-937, during the 2011 legislative session.
Making the Clean-Energy Economy Real
- Advanced Pioneer Cities in the Northwest: New Energy Cities’ continuing partnership with the Town of Jackson saw the town install Wyoming’s largest solar system on its wastewater treatment facility and receive over $450,000 from the local utility for its energy-saving measures. In Edmonds, WA, we helped catalyze the city to purchase four electric vehicle charging stations; host a community solar project; and launch an Energy Independence Campaign on July 4, 2011. We also helped the City of Albany, OR, monetize over $200,000 in Business Energy Tax Credits to ensure that the city’s local transit service for low-income, elderly and disabled citizens was not disrupted.
- Partnered with multicultural businesses in the clean economy: In partnership with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, we hosted a successful forum for small and diverse businesses, attended by over 100 people. It focused on opportunities for leadership in the clean-energy economy and identified ways to increase participation and engagement from these kinds of businesses.
- Furthered investments in rural clean-energy projects: We formed partnerships in Idaho and Montana to increase these states’ success rates in attracting Rural Energy for America Program grants from the USDA. We assisted 15 farmers and rural businesses with evaluating their opportunities to build renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Eleven went forward with application, and 100% were funded for a total of $133,000 in grants, leveraging over $500,000 in project costs.
- Engaged rural leaders: We organized the 11th annual Harvesting Clean Energy conference in Boise, ID, attended by over 300 ranchers, farmers, students and rural business leaders. Idaho Governor Butch Otter kicked off the conference as the keynote speaker. The panels and presenters emphasized that a wide variety of clean-energy solutions can benefit our rural communities, and that these profitable solutions bring people together across partisan and geographic divides.
- Mapped a flight-path for sustainable aviation fuels: We successfully completed a major stakeholder report with Boeing, Alaska Airlines, the Ports of Portland, Seattle and Spokane, and Washington State University with recommendations for creating sustainable and practical alternatives to petroleum fuels for this critical industry segment. The report was the first of its kind in the country, and has been widely recognized as a global model for this sector.
- Identified the need for a second solution to climate change: In 2011, Climate Solutions partnered with several of the Northwest’s leading conservation organizations to launch the Northwest Biocarbon Initiative. Strengthening natural systems is a second vital solution to the climate crisis, along with job #1 of phasing out fossil fuels.
- Established a Business Leader Advisory Council: We formed a high-level advisory council to guide our Business Partnership program and reflect the involvement of top companies and executives in our efforts. There are over 30 members in our inaugural advisory council including representatives of many of the Northwest’s top companies and most recognized clean-energy leaders such as Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks, McKinstry and Gerding Edlen. We now have over 1,100 members in our business partnership network, including close to 500 in WA, over 275 in OR and over 250 in MT.
Building the Power of the Climate and Clean Energy Movement
- Said NO to coal exports from Northwest ports: Climate Solutions continued its work as a central partner in the Power Past Coal effort to stop coal export off the West Coast. We forced Ambre Energy to pull their permit application for a proposed coal export facility in Longview, WA, and the coalition exposed Ambre Energy’s attempt to hide the true size of the planned facility. We also helped organize 11 Coal Hard Truth forums along the rail lines in OR and WA. All had packed houses and resulted in ongoing organizing in each of these communities. More than seven local government entities have sent letters to the Washington Governor expressing concerns or requesting some kind of action in relation to these proposals, and at least five major Northwest newspapers have raised concerns or expressed outright opposition.
- Showcased real solutions: We launched the Solutions Stories project to capture and communicate stories that demonstrate the clean-energy economy happening now. Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) joined the effort as a founding sponsor, and energyNOW, America’s only television news magazine focused on energy and climate issues, agreed to be a media sponsor. We’ve produced five videos and built a story bank of 50+ story prospects. Through work with our partners, we’ve promoted the videos to over 6,000 people via email and 34,000 via social media with over 3,300 people viewing them at events.
- Headlined top leadership: We hosted our 3rd Annual Breakfast, featuring a rare conversation with Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The event attracted nearly 1200 guests and was live-streamed at Grist.org.
- Expanded our reach in the Northwest: We strengthened our Oregon presence with new Portland-based staff and board members.
- Strengthened infrastructure: Climate Solutions board and staff completed a year-long formalized strategic planning process and created a 2011-2013 Strategic Plan to guide the organization as we move forward.
2010 Highlights and Accomplishments
Advocating for Strong Climate and Clean Energy Policy
- Worked to build support for federal action on a climate bill: Coordinated the campaign to ensure Northwest Senate leadership worked to pass a federal climate and clean-energy bill. Led national groups on a “72 Hours for Clean Power” call-in with the goal of flooding the Senate with calls for immediate progress on climate legislation. Over 300,000 activists called our U.S. Senators.
- Engaged Montana business leader support for the federal climate bill: Organized and accompanied two delegations made up of members of Montana Business Leaders for Clean Energy and Montana electric co-ops to Washington D.C. to request Senator Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Tester’s (D-MT) support for a federal climate bill. Delivered a statewide business leader sign-on letter to our Montana Senators with over 101 business leader names asking for strong comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Since delivery, another 150 business leaders have added their names to the letter.
- Increased support for energy efficiency: Developed a campaign to support policies in Oregon that increase consumer knowledge of statewide reporting, incentives and financing for energy efficiency. The Oregon Legislature will consider these policies in 2011.
- Built support for clean energy financing: Co-organized the Coalition for Clean Energy Financing to support continued state investment in clean energy in Oregon. The coalition includes clean-energy consultants, energy efficiency providers, green builders, smart grid professionals, clean car experts, mainstream businesses, and labor, forestry and environmental groups.
- Organized local communities to oppose coal export to Asia: Organized activists to testify at coal export hearing in Longview, Washington. Climate Solutions and the coalition garnered dozens of media hits -- the AP story ran across the country, including The Washington Post, MSN, Los Angeles Times and salon.com. As Climate Solutions Policy Director, KC Golden stated in the press: “We’ve got the specter of standing at the mouth of the Columbia River—the main artery of the Great Pacific Northwest — watching ships sailing out full of coal, passing ships sailing in full of solar panels and manufactured goods and lithium-ion batteries.”
- Held the line on Washington’s clean energy initiative: Worked with a coalition of clean energy advocates to preserve the integrity of Washington State’s Clean Energy Initiative, I-937, during the 2010 legislative session.
- Preserved financial support for wind power: Maintained critical tax credits for wind energy projects in Washington to ensure that the state does not lose job creating clean-energy development.
- Sparked bi-partisan support in Idaho: Secured Senator Crapo (R-ID) as the lead signator on the Senate member letter calling for continued funding for the Rural Energy for America Program in the Farm Bill.
- Joined fishing communities to call attention to the Gulf Disaster: Partnered with people in Louisiana, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest fishing industries to call attention to the impacts of oil spills on the fishing community, and the need to a federal bill to reduce our reliance on oil.
Supporting the Clean Energy Economy – Our Programs
- Continued rapid growth of our Business Leaders for Climate Solutions in Oregon and Washington and Montana Business Leaders for Clean Energy networks to nearly 1000 businesses, executives, investors and entrepreneurs.
- We successfully engaged key business leaders from the network in meetings with federal and state legislators, writing op-eds, and attending press events.
- Launched new partnerships in Idaho and Montana to increase these states’ success rates in attracting “Rural Energy for America Program” grants from the USDA to build renewable energy and energyefficiency projects benefiting farms and rural businesses.
- Organized the 10th Harvesting Clean Energy conference in Kennewick, WA. The conference emphasized that a wide variety of clean energy solutions can benefit our rural communities and that these profitable solutions bring people together across partisan and geographic divides.
New Energy Cities
- Held workshops around the region including in Albany and Salem, Oregon.
- With the Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project, created a first-in-the-nation partnership among a town, county and a utility that resulted in a successful $3,800,000 tax passed by public vote to pay for energy efficiency retrofits for public buildings.
- Produced a widely disseminated how-to guide for cities on financing clean energy programs called“Energizing Cities: New Models for Driving Clean Energy Investment.”
Sustainable Aviation Biofuels
- At the request of regional leaders in the aviation industry, we are facilitating a stakeholder process to develop strategies to create renewable and sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels for air travel.
Northwest Regional Biocarbon Initiative
- Led a groundbreaking project in partnership with Bullitt Foundation and key environmental NGOs aimed at building a globally significant model for advancing biological carbon sequestration as a vital climate stabilization strategy – with a key focus on forest and agriculture lands and on the bio-economy.
Expanding Our Reach
- Organized two successful annual events: Over 1,000 guests attended our 2nd Annual Seattle Breakfast keynoted by Van Jones, and over 400 guests attended our 2nd Annual Oregon Dinner keynoted by KC Golden. This is nearly double the attendance from our inaugural events last year.
- Launched the 350 Donor Club Network: Held our first 350 Club major donor reception at the penthouse suite at the top of the Smith Tower in Seattle. The new dean at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, Lisa Graumlich, was our featured speaker.
- Named “Best of the Decade in Green Living” by Seattle Magazine.
Built a Montana Business Leaders for Clean Energy coalition in January 2009 that has grown to include over 200 Montana business and agricultural leaders who are mobilized to promote strong climate policies.
Led the coalition in Washington State to advocate for House Bill 2227, building off the green jobs training program Climate Solutions pioneered in 2008.
Launched Oregon’s Healthy Climate Partnership to advocate for a variety of bills, including a low carbon fuel standard, energy and building codes and financing for clean energy.
Partnered with the Idaho Farm Bureau and USDA Idaho to increase the flow and quality of Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants to Idaho’s rural communities.
Launched New Energy Cities with workshops in Jackson Hole, WY; Spokane, WA; Albany, OR; and Salem, OR. New Energy Cities helps Northwest cities transition to a clean, renewable, efficient energy system
Organized the Rally for the Climate, Clean Energy Jobs, and Clean Air, which attracted a crowd of over 2000 demonstrators to the EPA climate hearings in Seattle.
Coordinated the campaign to ensure Northwest congressional leadership on the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).
Received recognition as the 2009 “Outstanding Nonprofit” by Seattle Business Magazine’s 2009 Green Washington Awards.
Organized the “350 Day of Action” which attracted over 700 people to the Seattle Center as part of a worldwide demonstration to draw attention to the importance of 350 to avoid a climate catastrophe (350 parts per million is the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere).
Partnered with veterans groups to organize a Veteran’s Day event to highlight the link between climate change and national security.
Delivered the strongest contingent of local officials, including WA Governor Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Nickels, to the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen and broke the logjam on the one major breakthrough in the accords: international financing for clean-energy development.
2007 - 2008
Catalyzed the formation of the West Coast Governors Global Warming Initiative in 2003 and the Western Region Climate Action Initiative in 2007, bringing one of the world’s largest and most dynamic economies into the global campaign for solutions
Helped to launch the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement – launched in Seattle in partnership with Climate Solutions – has enrolled over 650 communities covering 70 million Americans in a program to embrace Kyoto Protocol targets
Orchestrated the passage of landmark Clean Car laws in Oregon and Washington, hailed by Gov. Gregoire as “the most significant environmental legislation in Washington State in a decade”
Helped to secure strong renewable energy standards in Washington, Montana and Oregon; renewable energy incentives in Idaho; and emission performance standards for power that effectively close the West Coast power market to new, conventional coal power
Positioned clean energy as a major economic development priority in the region championed by Governors, Legislatures, investors, and economic development leaders in all four Northwest states
Built the Harvesting Clean Energy Network, nationally recognized as the most powerful clean energy organizing model for rural America. This program served as the model for Ag-Energy coalitions in three other major U.S. regions.
Provided research, analytical, and organizational leadership for the emergence of “Smart Grid” technologies and businesses – infusing information and communications technology to the electric grid to enable a much cleaner, more efficient power system
Lead the coalition to pass landmark Washington Climate Action and Green Jobs bill in 2008
Launched Business Leaders for Climate Solutions, a group of executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists advocating for climate policy
Partnered with Washington Environmental Council to launch the national 1Sky project (www.1Sky.org) and the 1Sky Washington campaign (www.1skywashington.org). 1Sky is dedicated to aggregating a massive nationwide movement by communicating a positive vision and a coherent set of national policies that rise to the scale of the climate challenge.
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