Inslee highlights need for climate change collaboration with regional, national and international leaders in New York
Gov. Jay Inslee traveled to New York this week to participate in the United Nations Climate Summit, World Economic Forum and Climate Week. He met with national and international world leaders, community partners and youth climate activists to highlight how states are leading the nation on climate action, despite an absence of federal leadership and attempts by the Trump administration to roll back many environmental protections.
Inslee started the week Saturday when he joined the U.N. Youth Climate Summit Town Hall, where young people from all over the world shared their ideas, concerns and solutions.
“Young people know what is at stake in this fight to protect the planet,” Inslee said. “It is their future and they demand action. Their voices are crucial in making the world pay attention to this existential threat. It means we have to stop the enormous subsidization of the fossil fuel industries that allow them to pollute our one atmosphere in unlimited amounts without regulation.”
Inslee provided keynote remarks at the opening ceremony of Climate Week. The gathering was run by The Climate Group, an international non-profit focused on accelerating climate action. He is the North American chair of the Under2 Coalition, the largest group of state and regional governments committed to fast and bold climate action in line with the Paris Agreement. The Under2 Coalition includes more than 220 state and regional governments and represents more than 1.3 billion people.
“When it comes to acting on climate, the world needs to know that the emphasis in the U.S. is on the states,” Inslee said. “There is intelligent life committed to fighting climate change, not denying it. Sub-national leaders are crucial to advancing climate action and the states and cities of the U.S. are acting where the federal government is not.”
Inslee met with Børge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum, and they discussed how to grow the economy while protecting workers and the environment.
Following the private meeting with Brende, Inslee participated in the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit. The governor shared how Washington state is choosing openness and pursuing three key strategies: talent (education and apprenticeship), connectivity (immigration and trade) and innovation (through economic growth, social justice and clean air). Inslee also highlighted how Washington is addressing climate change by cultivating and nurturing innovative technology, while pursuing progressive policies.
On Tuesday, Inslee, Maine Gov. Janet Mills and other representatives from the U.S. Climate Alliance met with representatives from the European Union. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, led the EU delegation, which included representatives from Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom. The discussion focused on sharing perspectives and action around Paris Agreement goals and on ways to work together, especially in the absence of U.S. federal leadership and commitment.
Later that day, Inslee joined fellow governors from the U.S. Climate Alliance — Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Gov. Janet Mills of Maine, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey — in a discussion about what states can do in the absence of U.S. federal leadership. Inslee founded the U.S. Climate Alliance in 2017 with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former California Gov. Jerry Brown. The bi-partisan Alliance now includes 24 states and one territory. Together, they represent more than 55 percent of the U.S. population.
“My fellow governors and I are taking action in the states, now,” Inslee said. “Collectively, this Alliance is not only pushing back against the Trump administration’s harmful actions but we are passing legislation and investing in alternate renewable energy sources and clean transportation technology. We are leading the way. This is proof that you can fight climate change and grow jobs.”
U.S. Climate Alliance states are moving quickly, with various states announcing seven new clean energy goals to achieve carbon free electricity and 10 new greenhouse gas emission targets. The Alliance is also coming together to leverage its collective power to influence the market for clean energy products like electric vehicles and energy efficient consumer goods. Four states recently passed appliance efficient standards and six states joined California in regulating hydrofluorocarbons.
“We’re speaking with a unified voice,” Inslee said. “We are fighting this administration’s deregulatory agenda and mobilizing around joint commitments.”
He concluded the day giving remarks about how to reignite America’s climate movement at the One Blue Dot event hosted by National Geographic.
Inslee ended the five-day trip on Wednesday morning by addressing the Climate and Oceans Leaders event, hosted by the U.N. Foundation and Fiji’s Permanent Mission to the UN.
Inslee, Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Inia Seruiratu, Ambassador Isabelle Picco of Monaco, and other leaders from nations and states reacted to the dire implications in a report (IPCC’s Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate) released the same day. Governments highlighted the coordinated actions they are taking to address climate impacts on the ocean, including actions they will take through the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification.
“Up and down the coast of Washington state, ocean acidification has damaged shellfish aquaculture production,” Inslee said. “This is especially detrimental, because this state leads the nation in oyster production, with some of finest oysters in the world growing in our waters. Water knows no borders, and it will take the collective work of governments — regionally, nationally and internationally — to mitigate the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.”
“Our reaffirmed efforts as people who inhabit this planet need to include a strong warning and wake-up call that it is time to seek solutions and act on them — we need to be done talking. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to answer the call from leaders, young and old alike, that we each have a stake in this planet’s future and in the fate of our humanity. Climate change and ocean acidification are already impacting our state and our world. To fight this scourge we need local, regional, national and international leadership and cooperation. We are all in this together.”