We can support energy efficiency, burn cleaner fuels, build renewable-energy generation, invent new energy technology, and create jobs. We can prepare for climate changes that we know are coming.
IT is up to us.
With the uncertainty in our nation’s capital over climate action, the responsibility to chart our future in the face of a changing climate now falls to leaders and individuals at the state and local levels who recognize the importance of this issue.
So what can we in Washington do about it? Plenty.
Starting today, right here, Washington state can lead the way. Working together, we can build a future that ensures the health and prosperity of our state, community and our families. Through bold and effective policy, we can reduce carbon emissions while building a more diverse and resilient economy that works for all of our state and protect people and natural resources. We can support energy efficiency, burn cleaner fuels, build renewable-energy generation, invent new energy technology and create jobs. We can prepare for the changes that we know are coming.
The people of Washington know climate change is happening and want our leaders to act. A postelection survey by The Nature Conservancy and partners shows that Washingtonians understand the science of climate change. More than 80 percent believe the planet is warming. More than 60 percent understand the incontrovertible science that shows climate change is caused largely by human activities.
The effects are evident and the impacts on businesses and lives continue to mount. Washington farmers face increased flooding and drought. Rising sea levels have coastal communities planning for an uncertain future. Ocean acidification is impacting our fisheries. Bigger and more frequent wildfires threaten homes, valuable timber and our recreational and tourism industries. Infrastructure damage and threats to affordable electricity due to snowpack decline are already negatively impacting local business and will increasingly affect their bottom line. Meanwhile, people in our growing urban areas are experiencing more extreme heat and pollution. In many cases the impacts of climate change are especially hard on vulnerable communities.
People of our state want action on climate. Despite the defeat of Initiative 732, the postelection poll shows that more than 2 out of 3 voters want the state to take action to reduce climate-change pollution. The grass-roots energy behind I-732 demonstrates the huge demand for action and creates momentum that our state policymakers can build upon.
Washingtonians’ desire for action is also reflected in the business community. Forward-thinking businesses are reducing their energy use, putting internal prices on carbon, investing in renewable energy, protecting public lands and inventing clean technologies. These businesses understand the importance of the triple bottom line — planet, people and profits. Organizations like Washington Business for Climate Action have played a critical role for years in pushing for smart policy that will build a healthy, prosperous, low-carbon Washington.
With the support of the business community and the clear support of voters, the time is now for state legislators to lead on climate change. The right policy must be:
• Transparent and accountable,
• Comprehensive, not a hodgepodge of disconnected regulations,
• Equitable for rural and low-income communities, and an investment in economic development for both,
• Embedded with protections for vulnerable people and industries; and
• Able to create a path to low-carbon prosperity.
To succeed we must unite across differences and across the state and go all-in on a policy that works for nature, people and business.
The urgency is real. Washington has the opportunity to model what can be done at a state level. There is no time to step back and wait. This is our state’s moment to move boldly forward, together.