As Jay Inslee said at today’s Climate Solutions breakfast in Seattle, “this is not the climate hand-wringers breakfast, or the climate-whiners breakfast”. Nope, it was about solutions and positive thinking, and god knows I always need more of that when it comes to this topic.
Climate Solutions is celebrating its 15 years as a champion for proactive political and business responses to mitigate climate impacts. Their breakfast was a pretty inspirational call to arms about the urgent need for action and concrete steps we can and should be taking as quickly as possible. And the inspiration was in no small part due to our forward-thinking Governor Inslee and the incredibly articulate Tom Steyer, co-founder of Next Generation, a California-based nonprofit working on clean energy and climate change policy issues. Tom and Jay spoke about some very exciting developments in the Northwest and partnerships beyond our region that show our regional leadership in developing energy policies and positive directions in the federal vacuum of leadership, including:
– Quebec and California have recently announced they are linking their carbon markets, which will become the largest in the world, according to Steyer, and a possible model for expansion and extrapolation
-Inslee announced his plans to push for a state budget that includes plans for a university-based research center for biofuels, and allocate $50M for entrepreneurs to help get clean and green tech and energy ideas off the ground
-And as I’ve written about previously, there are hopeful signs the tide is turning away from coal exports, with the most recent demise of the Kinder Morgan Coal Export Facility proposal on the Columbia River.
Of course, moving Washington and our other northwest partners on clean energy are investments, and there will be uphill battles that need to be fought. Both Inslee and Steyer reminded us how important it is that we urge our elected officials to support clean energy development and sensible climate policies, and that we make sure they hear our praise when they do the right thing, and that we hold them accountable if they do not. As Steyer put it, “only political pressure will pull our heads out of the oil sands.” Ain’t that the truth.