If our elected leaders won’t lead on reducing carbon dioxide pollution, then the people will.
Originally published August 10, 2015 on The Seattle Times.
By Rebecca Saldaña, Jeffrey Johnson, Brenna Davis - Special to The Times
THE dust has settled on a frustrating legislative session. Time and again, oil interests blocked broadly supported steps to encourage the transition to clean energy and cut global-warming pollution.
There is a lot of individual blame to go around, but we see this as a broad failure of our state’s political institutions. Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to use his executive authority to enforce existing limits on carbon pollution illustrates how seriously he takes the issue — yet it further underscores our lack of legislative progress. Washingtonians demand urgent action on climate. If our elected leaders won’t lead us forward, then the people will.
Washington already is seeing the impacts of climate change: Bigger and more destructive wildfires put our communities at risk; drought — currently affecting 98 percent of the state — threatens our farmers’ crops, our multibillion-dollar outdoor industry and our reliance on hydropower; declining air quality hurts kids with asthma; seniors suffer from the effects of heat waves. This is having a real, immediate impact on our economy and the health of our families.
We believe Washington can invest in our shared prosperity by accounting for the impact carbon pollution already has on our economy and communities. Left unchecked, global warming will disrupt supply and distribution chains, make power delivery more unreliable, increase food costs, threaten water resources and lead to uncertainty in the marketplace.
The solutions to climate change — transitioning to clean energy, ensuring we have a resilient food system, making our current energy and building stock more efficient, expanding access to sustainable, affordable transportation options, and repairing our outdated infrastructure — are opportunities to lift people out of poverty, create stable jobs in a resilient economy, protect our communities from extreme weather and invest in clean air for our families.
The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy is Washington state’s coalition of individuals, organizations and businesses dedicated to reducing global-warming pollution and strengthening our economy. We represent more than 125 organizations and businesses, thousands of members, and leaders from a broad diversity of constituencies — including our state’s environmental, faith, health, labor, clean-energy and business communities, and communities of color.
Throughout the summer, the alliance will continue to explore possible climate ballot measures with the goal to file and qualify an initiative to the people in 2016. Our priority is to develop a policy that is effective, viable and representative of the diverse breadth of our coalition.
Washington has long been a national leader on technology innovation, from airplanes and software, to energy efficiency and renewable energy. As we transition to a low-carbon economy, Washington businesses have the opportunity to lead the way: creating jobs and wealth by developing, deploying and exporting new low-carbon technologies, services and solutions.
Unleashing this creative potential requires a new policy framework. The place to start is to accurately reflect the real price of our energy choices, which would send a signal to the market to accelerate the pace of investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.
Equity must be at the heart of any policy we develop, ensuring fair access to the opportunities and benefits associated with transitioning to a clean-energy economy. That means investing in communities disproportionately impacted by climate change, predominantly communities of color and low-income communities, and the protection and support of workers dependent for their livelihoods on fossil-fuel industries.
We know fossil-fuel interests will fight us every step of the way. Yet we refuse to accept legislative inaction on this issue, which strikes at the heart of the security, stability and safety of our communities. By joining together, we believe the people of Washington can and will lead our state forward on global warming and clean energy. Join us.
Brenna Davis is chair of Washington Businesses for Climate Action. Jeffrey Johnson is president of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Rebecca Saldaña is executive director of Puget Sound Sage.
Contributor: Sarah Severn
The proposed Clean Fuel Standard for Washington is well-designed to achieve two vital objectives: the reduction of greenhouse gas pollutants that cause climate change, and the expansion of in state production of low carbon fuels. It's a triple win for economic, environmental and energy security goals.
During my 20 plus years at Nike Inc, before I moved to Washington State a large portion of my work was focused on helping Nike reduce its greenhouse gas footprint across multiple pathways. I also led the establishment of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy. Those two decades showed me how many businesses, not just Nike, have stepped up to embrace clean energy, and yet time and again I witnessed fossil fuel interests get in the way of genuine progress, particularly in the area of policy. I am seeing that same pattern repeat itself here in Washington State. Meanwhile businesses that are trying to deploy clean energy or provide innovative, low carbon solutions at a local level are being ignored and the health of our citizens is being compromised.
A Clean Fuel Standard is an important step in the direction of a fossil free future. It would create substantial opportunities to expand agricultural jobs in rural counties producing sustainable biomass feedstocks including canola, camelina and animal fats. In addition, low carbon fuels increasingly can be produced from waste oils (biodiesel), separated municipal solid wastes (ethanol and drop in fuels), and dairy manure and waste organics (renewable natural gas). The increasing demand for these waste-derived fuels reduces landfilling, nutrient waste run-offs, and other negative environmental consequences, and transforms waste into feedstock.
We know this will work. California’s low carbon fuel program has been in place for five years, has reduced 10 million metric tons of carbon pollution, and is invisible to its citizens. Based on a recent status review completed by the University of California at Davis, there is ample supply of low carbon fuels and California’s program is currently costing citizens less than half a penny per gallon of gasoline.
Over the long-term, a Clean Fuel Standard will save Washingtonians millions of dollars by creating new jobs in the state, reducing demand for gasoline, enabling the production of fuel from waste and agricultural by-products, and providing a market window for electric vehicles that cost consumers less on a per mile basis. My own very affordable Smart fortwo, zero emissions electric car achieves 3.7miles per Kwhr. That’s costing me about 70 cents a day to drive an average of 30 miles, a lot less than the gasoline version, and with vastly reduced maintenance costs. It has a lot of fans amongst the local community here.
Ultimately we need consistency across the West Coast region. OR and CA both have low carbon fuel programs and have managed to resist efforts by the oil industry to derail them. Governor Kate Brown signed the clean fuels bill into law in March, despite attacks by the oil industry. The Western States Petroleum Association even wrote the framework for a clean fuels replacement proposal and are suing in federal court to block implementation. For now the bill stands..
In February of this year Ryan Deckert of Oregon Business Association (OBA) said “The Clean Fuels Program meets the test of incenting economic development here in Oregon. California's program has attracted more than $5 billion in the clean transportation industry. Oregon should work to capitalize on the same benefits of innovation.” Washington business groups should show the same level of long term thinking and resist oil industry scare tactics. Choosing between clean fuels and a transportation package is a false choice. We can and should have both.
Originally posted on ASBC website.
In October 2014, 100 companies joined together and launched the Washington Climate Declaration, a state level version of the national Climate Declaration created by CERES. Since launching, that number has increased to 185 signatories, including several business associations including ASBC, who believe that taking action on climate just makes good business sense.
Collectively, we are known as Washington Business for Climate Action. Our leadership team is made up of business people from across Washington State and our mission is to engage Washington businesses by providing opportunities for education, innovation, and advocacy on climate and energy that meet the needs of a diverse range of business sectors.
WBCA is also linked to a broader effort in the state - the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. This is a fast growing coalition of diverse constituencies that includes business, labor, communities of color, health, faith based groups and environmental NGOs. We are uniting to support reducing carbon pollution and promote just and sustainably shared prosperity.
Meanwhile, the Washington legislature is stalled over HB 1314, Governor Inslee’s bill that would introduce a cap and trade system and put a price on carbon. The initial version of the bill did not make it into the House budget, and a revised version is now under consideration.
While many businesses have testified in favor of capping and pricing carbon pollution, the prospects for HB 1374 still appear cloudy, due to a divided legislature. Therefore, the next step is likely to involve developing an initiative for the people to vote on. There are good indications from prior polls that this would be popular with voters.
When it comes to setting a price on carbon, business appears to generally fall into one of two camps:
The Business as Usual voice
Sarah Severn is a board member of ASBC. After 21 years at Nike Inc., she relocated to Washington State. She is currently consulting and acting as a coordinator for Washington Business for Climate Action.
Reposted by permission from Health Care Without Harm
March 18, 2015
By Eric Lerner
Across the United States, a growing number of health systems are taking action to address climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing energy use, and investing in renewables.
Two recent success stories highlight this trend. In November, Gundersen Health became the first energy independent health system in the nation. Last month, Kaiser Permanente announced it will buy enough renewable power to provide half the electricity used by its hospitals, clinics, and offices in California.
There is a lot to feel good about when it comes to the health sector’s climate leadership. But at the same time we have to ask ourselves, are we moving fast enough? According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change is harming people around the globe now. New research shows that doctors are treating patients now who are experiencing health problems associated with climate change.
This is yet another warning that we are falling behind in our efforts to address climate change. So we set out to change that. This past summer, Health Care Without Harm launched the Health Care Climate Council. As a leadership network of health systems, the Council was built around the idea that health systems can be more effective in addressing climate and health issues by working together.
Health Care Climate Council members currently include 13 health systems, representing 364 hospitals in cities and communities across the country. And while new, we’ve accomplished a lot since our summer launch.
We developed a broad set of goals that range from modeling sustainability and resilience in the communities that hospitals serve to engaging in policy opportunities that promote the transition to healthy energy, low carbon, and energy efficiency strategies.
We’ve produced a climate declaration, op-eds, commentaries, and statements, and participated in a meeting at the White House on climate resiliency and mitigation with senior Health and Human Service leadership.
Recently, Council members came together in Washington D.C. for our first in-person meeting. In addition to the excitement and energy that members brought to the discussion, we made important strides in charting the course for our future work together. For example, we committed to:
Council Members include: Ascension Health, Cleveland Clinic, Dignity Health, Gundersen Health System, Hackensack University Medical Center, Inova Health Systems,InterMountain Healthcare,Kaiser Permanente, Partners Healthcare, Tenet Health, ThedaCare, University Hospitals, and Virginia Mason Health System.
A price on carbon is one of the ways to effectively reduce carbon emissions. That's why it was great to see the recent Olympian editorial written by Julia Person of Redhook Brewery calling for action on climate.
In her editorial, she points out that the craftbrew industry is one of the more important industries in our state. Julia emphasizes the inherent business risk her industry faces due to the unpredictable weather changes associated with climate change. As an industry that relies on an agricultural supply chain, these impacts will hit the bottom line.
Thank you, Redhook Brewery and the other craftbrew signatories of the Climate Declaration for your climate leadership!
Social media has been alive with excitement about an open letter from 43 CEOs to the leaders of our national governments. They express in unequivocal terms that these governments should act swiftly to follow the scientific consensus, put a price on carbon, end deforestation and facilitate investment in low carbon energy and technologies.