The Northwest at a Crossroads
We stand at a crucial juncture on climate change and clean energy. The choices that we make in the next few years will lock us into a path that grows a clean-energy economy or one that sinks us into more fossil fuel dependence.
By Gregg Small
The Northwest is at a Crossroads. We stand at a crucial juncture on
climate change and clean energy. The choices that we make in the next few years
will lock us into a path that grows a clean-energy economy or one that sinks us
into more fossil fuel dependence.
The stakes could not be higher. Scientists’ chorus of concern about global warming joins a larger, louder one as we start to experience real and serious climate impacts.
Since 1998, Climate Solutions has successfully advanced our vision of accelerating Northwest climate and clean energy leadership to catalyze national and international solutions at scale. Policies and programs established here can lead to major changes that go far beyond our borders. Our successful efforts to pass clean cars legislation and establish pollution limits on power plants have catalyzed national policies that will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive innovation and job creation in the clean-energy economy. Our region is a beacon of light to show the path toward economic prosperity and environmental riches.
We face some of our deepest challenges. It starts with coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. In the next decade, both Washington and Oregon will phase out the last two coal plants still operating in our states. How will we replace that power? Will we invest even more deeply in renewables and efficiency to create stronger national models of powering our economy cleanly? Or will we simply replace one fossil fuel with another?
The threat of coal exports off the West Coast is forcing us to confront the question of whether we will allow our communities to become staging areas for international coal trafficking that perpetuates global fossil fuel dependence and feeds the endless accumulation of carbon pollution.
We face stark choices about how to build our economy and protect our environment and not do it in parallel with stoking the climate crisis.
This morning, at Climate Solutions 4th Annual Breakfast, we heard from people on the front lines of creating a clean-energy economy in the region – true climate heroes. In an era of despair with the state of the economy and politics, the room today was full of hope.
We also heard from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson – one of our national heroes in the fight to protect public health and confront climate change. She is leading a powerful effort to clean up our air and water.
In the coming year, Climate Solutions will continue to demonstrate that the power of partnership can be an unrelenting force in driving us toward the path toward economic and environmental prosperity. We will work with cities to implement innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. We will partner with business, labor, environmental, faith and rural communities to advocate for strong public policies. We will galvanize farmers, foresters, and community leaders to demonstrate the essential role that natural systems need to play in stabilizing the climate.