Washington Business for Climate Action was looking forward to an active 2020, when like everyone, our plans ground to a halt. We had planned to host quarterly Climate Innovation Salons in a packed cocktail bar in Downtown Seattle. That didn't happen. We found ourselves redefining what it meant to meet up, share ideas and even find new ways to network. When COVID hit, climate change was still accelerating, so we could not rest either.
Transcending the pandemic and still continuing our work was a great accomplishment. We worked together as a network to advance climate policy and action in our state. We are especially proud of four events we held in 2020 that kept the ball rolling:
Climate Innovation Happy Hour with Microsoft and UW Climate Impacts Group
Originally an in-person cocktail hour, we hosted a fun Zoom Happy Hour in March, before they became common-place. We weren't sure how we were going to pull it off, frankly. But it all worked out thanks to our talented, knowledgeable and interesting speakers. Elizabeth Willmott and Katie Ross of Microsoft shared their inspiring path to carbon negative by 2030. Dr. Amy Snover from the UW Climate Impacts Group gave us a sobering update on the latest climate science. It felt good to get back to work, in defiance of the pandemic.
Building Back Better with Kevin Tempest
Most of our members were swept up in COVID response, so once that had settled, we began to hold Lunch & Learns. In August, we hosted Kevin Tempest of the Low Carbon Prosperity Institute to present the result of their new report: Building Back Better: Investing in Resilient Recovery for Washington State. The report found that investing in clean transportation, forest conservation and ecosystem restoration, clean energy, water and energy efficiency, low carbon agriculture and sustainable industries could build a green economy while creating new jobs. The presentation left us with a sense of optimism that as we rebuilt our economy, we could build back better.
Fall Washington State Legislative Preview
The legislative session was upon us, so we continued our annual tradition of a climate policy legislative preview in October. Vlad Gutman-Britten, Washington Director of Climate Solutions, briefed the group on the many policies headed to the legislature. With a record budget deficit and the desire to "build back better", the legislative session was an important one. We walked away with some actionable steps that businesses could take to support climate policy in the 2020/2021 legislative session.
How to Talk to the Other Side
We wrapped up our year of events with a lunch and learn by sustainability expert Kevin Wilhelm, the CEO of Sustainable Business Consulting. Kevin is an author of many books, and recently published How to Talk to the Other Side: Finding Common Ground in the Age of Coronavirus, Recession and Climate Change. Kevin shared practical actions and strategies for finding common ground with others who might not agree with us. As we came off of a divisive election and sought to advance smart climate policies, we were well positioned with Kevin's advice.
2020 was not the year we expected, but our network was resilient. We weathered the COVID storm with our eye to continuing to advance our business climate leadership. And that we, as business leaders, are the folks to solve this crisis. Climate salons turned to Zoom. In the face of a pandemic, our dedication to climate leadership never wavered.