Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee was joined by former Vice President Al Gore and current White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy at a “Climate Action Now!” virtual town hall.
The trio advocated for more action at all levels of government in combatting climate change caused by an increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases in Earth’s atmosphere, mostly from fossil fuel emissions.
“This is a very pivotal moment in our arc of our history in our state against climate change, because we are very close to passing some absolutely necessary legislation to reach our climate goals,” Inslee said during the late Wednesday afternoon/early evening event. He warned that time is running out to deal with the negative effects of warming temperatures.
The legislation Inslee referred to is House Bill 1770, which would impose strict new net-zero housing requirements to meet Washington’s carbon dioxide-reduction targets. On Saturday, the House passed HB 1770 on a 51-47 vote.
Gore, well-known for his crusade against climate change, echoed Inslee’s sentiment that time is running out to do something about the problem.
“Despite all of the pledges and promises, we’re continuing to put 162 million tons of global warming pollution into our atmosphere every single day as if it were an open sewer,” Gore said. “And the accumulation of all that heat trapping, man-made pollution is creating consequences that are all around us. And of course, you’ve felt – those of you in Washington state have certainly felt it.”
Last summer, Washington state residents endured record-breaking temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees.
Both national climate change figures applauded Inslee’s work on the issue.
“It’s the most important decade of action in our lifetimes and we need to move quickly to deploy the solutions that will make our buildings and homes more energy efficient,” Gore said. “That’s what Gov. Inslee is proposing as legislation. Decarbonize our power grid, replace gas-guzzlers with electric vehicles. He’s got the practical solutions well thought out, well drafted. We need your support to get these measures enacted.”
McCarthy, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, also had kind words for Inslee’s work on the climate change front.
“I don’t think anyone’s had to tap on Gov. Inslee’s shoulder and remind him to take action, ’cause that’s what he’s all about,” she said. “His leadership on this fight on climate change has been just incredible, both in Washington state and in Washington, D.C.”
While not discounting federal action in addressing climate change, all three agreed that state and local governments are the main drivers on the issue.
“We can do things that the federal government cannot,” Inslee said. “We do not have to wait for other states.”
He charged that things like the filibuster and gerrymandering have hampered the ability of Congress to take on climate change.
“We can lead on this, and we are,” Inslee said. “And other governors are as well.”
As an example, Inslee pointed to the Climate Commitment Act passed last year in Washington state to develop rules to implement a cap-and-invest program – what he called the best in the nation – for the sale and tracking of tradable emissions allowances.
“So, we’ve moved the ball in places the Congress has not been able to move,” the governor said.
“Leadership at the state and local level has been absolutely crucial in moving the United States forward,” he said, noting state action was the saving grace of climate change work during the previous administration of President Donald Trump.
McCarthy chimed in with a similar sentiment.
“I mean, I know where innovation comes from,” she said, noting that a concept in fighting climate change can be proved in a state or states and then applied across the country.
States, she said, have been driving climate action for the last 20 years and will continue to play a huge role.
Gore remained upbeat about the long-term picture related to climate change, pointing to recent developments that give him hope.
“Look at all the ads for electric cars on the Super Bowl,” he noted.
He went on to say the move toward electrification is a harbinger of things to come.
“Look, we’re in the early stages of a sustainability revolution that has the scale of the industrial revolution and the speed of the digital revolution,” Gore said.
Gore sees mankind winning the climate change war.
“And I’m ultimately very optimistic about our ability as humanity to solve this crisis because we have the solutions we need to take action right now,” he said. “We can reduce emissions and improve lives in communities all across the country and around the world with better jobs, cleaner air, cleaner water.”
This article was originally posted on Al Gore predicts victory in climate crisis, praises Inslee, Super Bowl ads