Inslee talks climate action, economy during visit to East Coast

Stops included the United Nations, World Economic Forum, Yale University

Gov. Jay Inslee traveled to New York City and Connecticut this week to meet with international leaders for climate and economic discussions. He participated in United Nations General Assembly, World Economic Forum, and Climate Week activities.

Leaders of states and cities have an unusually prominent role in U.N. discussions this year, reflecting the important part that Inslee and other governors have in fighting climate change in the absence of U.S. national leadership.

“Carbon pollution and climate change are already impacting Washington state, from an increased severity of wildfires to ocean acidification making it more difficult for shellfish farms to raise oysters,” Inslee said. “While President Donald Trump has told the world to count us out of the Paris agreement, our message is simple in New York City this week: You can count us in.”

Inslee kicked off the week on Monday with remarks at the opening session of Climate Week, where he discussed efforts to fight climate change at the state level and actions taken by the U.S. Climate Alliance — a group of 14 states and Puerto Rico remaining committed to the Paris agreement. He was joined on the panel by California Gov. Jerry Brown, Hawaii Gov. Daniel Ige, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Mars Board of Directors Chair Stephen Badger, and Climate Group CEO Helen Clarkson.

Inslee then joined other governors, mayors, business leaders and foreign government leaders in a closed meeting with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, U.N. Special Envoy Michael Bloomberg, former Vice President Al Gore, and Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The meeting focused on collaboration with the secretary-general to build momentum for international climate action and support the implementation of the Paris agreement.

Gov. Jay Inslee, along with other government and business leaders, attend a climate-action meeting with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and U.N. Special Envoy Michael Bloomberg on Sept. 18, 2017, in New York City. (Official Governor’s Office photo)

Thinking globally, acting locally

Inslee also spoke Monday at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York City. It was an opportunity to tell our state’s story of local action on a global stage, and build relationships that will take our local work further.

In his plenary remarks, the governor discussed how Washington state is addressing the challenges of the era of accelerated technology by choosing openness, and actively pursuing and cultivating three focus areas: talent, connectivity and innovation. Washington is proving to the world that we can have inclusive prosperity, while simultaneously promoting social justice and preserving the environment.

Inslee was joined by Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com; Marianne Eve Jamme, CEO of SpotOne Global Solutions in Africa; Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Enterprises in India; and Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden.

Gov. Jay Inslee participates in a World Economic Forum summit on Sept. 18, 2017 that focused on sustainable development. (Official Governor’s Office photo)

While at the summit, Inslee also met with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. The two discussed strategies to address the climate crisis and other important topics such as clean energy, immigration and electric ferries. Inslee will remain engaged in the World Economic Forum and continue to advance our local efforts while developing new working relationships with global leaders.

Gov. Jay Inslee sits down with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Sept. 18, 2017 during the World Economic Forum summit. (Official Governor’s Office photo)

‘We are the can-do coalition’

On Tuesday, Inslee joined former Secretary John Kerry at the Yale Climate Forum. The governor highlighted the work being done at the state level on climate change. You can read more here about the climate actions taken by Washington state so far.

Inslee was joined at Yale by Gov. Jerry Brown, World Bank President Jim Kim, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. Kerry moderated the discussion.

Kerry asked Inslee how elected officials can lead the democratic process in a way that inspires action on climate change. Inslee made a personal appeal to the crowd to stay committed to the fight at the grassroots level.

“We need you. You’re powerful,” Inslee said. “Donald Trump cannot stop us. This is an effort that is alive in Seattle. It’s alive in Washington. It’s alive in California. It’s alive in Des Moines, Iowa. We will win this battle.”

On Wednesday morning, Inslee, Brown and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, accompanied by Kerry, announced the release of the U.S. Climate Alliance’s inaugural report and answered questions from the media.

According to the report, Climate Alliance states are collectively on track to reach a 24 to 29 percent reduction below 2005 greenhouse-gas emission rates by 2025. That means alliance states are on track to meet, and possibly exceed, their portion of U.S. commitments that had been made under the Paris agreement.

Additionally, the report shows that on a per capita basis, the economic output in alliance states expanded twice as fast as in the rest of the country, demonstrating that climate action and economic growth can go hand-in-hand.

“We are the can-do coalition. We are the governors who believe we can defeat climate change. We are the governors who know we grow our economies because we’re defeating climate change,” Inslee said. “We have exploded the myth that you can’t defeat climate change and grow your economies at the same time.”

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to members of the media on Sept. 20, 2017 about a new report that shows states involved in the U.S. Climate Alliance are collectively on track to meet their portion of commitments to the Paris agreement. (Kevin P. Coughlin/New York Governor’s Office)