How to fight climate change while building jobs: Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State

Author:
Ilario D'Amato
24 October 2017

Jay Inslee, Governor, State of Washington

NEW YORK: “Job creation through clean energy is one of the best bets we can possibly make,” says Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, in a Climate TV interview filmed at Climate Week NYC in September.

The ninth annual summit - organized by The Climate Group - focused on how acting on climate change drives to innovation, jobs and prosperity for all. “We are experiencing great success in Washington State,” confirms Governor Inslee in the interview, “simultaneously fighting climate change and building jobs.”

Washington is home to the largest manufacturer of vanadium flow batteries in the world – a technology that Forbes defined as ‘the energy storage breakthrough we’ve needed’ to scale-up the adoption of renewable energy.

Innovation in the State is also being spearheaded by a leading manufacturer of carbon fiber for electric cars and a thriving wind turbines industry, which has helped reduce the cost of wind power by over 50% between 2010 and 2015.

Business news television channel CNBC “just named us as the number one place to do business in the United States,” says Governor Inslee. “We are proud of that, and at the same time we’re defeating climate change: good days in Washington State.”

According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2015 Washington was the leading producer of electricity from hydroelectric sources in the country – which makes the state the nation’s top producer of carbon free energy.

Washington is also implementing ambitious policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG), with the goal of returning to 1990 levels of emissions by 2020, with the aim of reducing them to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. It has also ensured the State’s electric utilities must obtain 15% of their electricity from renewables by 2020, while undertaking all cost-effective energy conservation projects.

The State also recently implemented a “cap-and-reduce” program, similar to “cap-and-trade” systems adopted in other states such as California, which put a cap on carbon pollution and required major sources – including the makers of transportation fuels – to reduce those emissions by a set rate annually.

Clean Air Rule 2016

The Washington Department of Ecology has a plan to help reduce carbon pollution.

Washington State is one of the founding signatories of the Under2 Coalition, of which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat. The Coalition brings together leading states, regions and cities with a public commitment to reduce their GHG emissions by 80-95% on 1990 levels, or two metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per capita, by 2050.

“I’m thrilled to be here in New York with Climate Week NYC with my fellow leaders of Québec, California and Hawaii,” says Governor Inslee. “We call ourselves ‘the can-do coalition’: we can defeat climate change, we must defeat climate change.”

During Climate Week NYC in September, The Climate Group – in collaboration with Futerra –  launched the “Climate Optimism” campaign, an initiative aimed at shining a light on climate change solutions and positive climate actions that are already happening around the world.

“We are optimistic about [defeating climate change],” says Governor Inslee, “so spreading that information of success is very important, particularly since we have a climate denier in the White House. But here’s the good news: the President of the United States cannot stop California, or Washington, or Hawaii – or Québec. We are moving with or without him, as the future of our country.”

Such optimism is justified, adds the Governor, “because of the incredible rate of technological innovation: the price of solar panels and wind [turbines] is coming down dramatically, in many places today solar energy is competitive with coal-based power and is continuing to drop. So, if you believe in human intellect, you are believing we can win this battle through developing new clean technologies: and we’re doing that in my State.”

An IPSOS survey presented during Climate Week NYC, on behalf of The Climate Group and Futerra, shows that a majority of people globally are optimistic about addressing climate change if we act now – with people in emerging economies the most positive about the role of new technology.

“Join this ‘can-do coalition’,” is the Governor’s appeal to his fellow political leaders and business pioneers. “Join us on the parade of those who believe in the march of progress, join us in believing in ourselves, that we can beat climate change. We must have victory here, because without victory there’s no survival. So, join us for the victory party.”

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