The year which saw the largest climate action march ever, plus victories over big coal and advances in clean energy is coming to a close with a bang. Backed by labor, business, and community leaders at the REI flagship store in South Lake Union, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a plan for Washington to tackle climate change while creating a world-beating clean energy economy. In 2008, the Washington state legislature passed a law requiring the state to reduce its carbon pollution. The new plan put forward by Governor Inslee will enforce that law – and in doing so, create a healthier and more prosperous Washington.
The centerpiece of the proposal is a cap on carbon pollution that guarantees Washington follows the law and fulfills its obligation for a sustainable future. Making polluters pay for their emissions is an economically sound and responsible way to clean our air and invest billions for public goods like education and thriving local communities. The proposal put forward by Governor Inslee represents a commitment to not just nibble around the edges of the climate problem, but to tackle the issue full on with ambitious action.
With proposals at this scale, the details matter. Our friends at Sightline have a full rundown on the “awesome” initial proposal.
The pollution cap is far from only piece of important climate action announced on Wednesday. The Governor also announced efforts to promote electric vehicles, bust open the solar energy market and increase the size of the state’s Clean Energy Fund. There are proposals to make buildings, agriculture and industry more energy efficient, and innovative changes to long-term sustainable transportation planning. The full range of climate-smart policies can be found here on the Energy and Climate page of the Executive Office website. The climate and energy agenda fits right into a proposed budget that the Washington Budget and Policy Center calls “realistic” and “responsible” (a full analysis from the Budget and Policy Center can be found here.)
Strategies for real climate action have always been a challenge in the Washington State Legislature, as oil companies pour millions into obstructionist lobbying. The 2015 legislative session will be no exception, and will challenge all Washingtonians to make sure that our voices are heard. Governor Inslee has given the legislature the opportunity to act on climate now and start building a healthier and more vibrant Washington – in 2015, let’s hold them to it.