“We are bound together in what is an urgent and noble cause”

Gov. Inslee’s climate change speech at the United Nations

On March 23, 2017 Gov. Inslee addressed the United Nations High-level SDG Event on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda about the role West Coast states will play in the global effort on climate change and sustainable development. He spoke as a part of the opening plenary panel “Stocktaking on Climate –Ambition and Action.”

(Remarks as Delivered)

Good morning, and thank you.

This we know: Mankind did not cross the long stretch of millions of years from the first stone axe to the first moon landing, only to destroy the natural systems and the climate that form the very foundation of our societies and our world.

We know that such a bitter end cannot be our destiny.

Gov. Jay Inslee at the United Nations Stocktaking on “Climate –Ambition and Action” panel at the United Nations in New York, NY. on March 23, 2017(Official Governor’s Office Photo)

Our destiny is to use our human powers of innovation and genius and creativity and technological ability to build a clean energy economy, and the inevitable opportunities for prosperity that follows from those developments.

I’d like to take a moment to introduce my state. I’m the governor of the state of Washington — it’s in the northwest corner of the United States. We’re proud because it’s the closest point on the continental United States to Fiji. That’s a great asset that we have.

Now, this is distinguished from what we call the “other Washington,” which is Washington D.C. on the East Coast of the United States.

If you’ve flown on a Boeing airplane; or you’ve used Microsoft software; or bought a product from Amazon, you know that my state is an extremely innovative state.

And today, more than ever, those powers of innovation are pivotal in our ability to save my state from the mortal threats that we are now experiencing.

Unbelievable forest fires we have never experienced. Unprecedented drought. Ocean acidification that has made it difficult for our shellfish industries to even grow baby oysters.

We refuse to resign ourselves to that state beyond repair.

So, I’ve come here to share a couple messages with you.

First, I want you to know our state is boldly leading the effort to develop a clean energy economy.

We are among the world’s largest producers of carbon fiber that make electric cars so efficient.

We are developing a whole new way to manufacture photovoltaic cells at minimal cost.

We have the western hemisphere’s largest vanadium flow battery that allows the integration of renewable energy into our grid.

And since 2006, our entire west coast — California, Oregon, and Washington, and the Canadian province of British Columbia — have been united in an effort to advance this clean energy economy.

On the west coast, we are shutting down our coal plants. We are electrifying our transportation system. We are pricing and capping the unfettered emissions of carbon pollution that we know are so devastating. And importantly, we are battling the evil twin of climate change which is ocean acidification.

We on the west coast know that this threatens our food chain, and we know that it is indeed a principal obligation to defeat ocean acidification, so we have formed an international alliance, and we invite you all to join. We now have over 40 jurisdictions that are working in an effort to tame this beast.

Gov. Jay Inslee with Patricia Espinoza, Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the United Nations in New York, NY., on March 23, 2017 (Official Governor’s Office Photo)

So the second message I want to share with you is that our progress in Washington State is not going to be stopped, by anyone, at any time.

Our commitment is not going to be diminished by anyone, at any time. And our confidence is not going to be suppressed and I’ll tell you why.

Our states have always been the laboratories of democracy in the United States system. Our states have been free to invent policies that can determine our own destinies. And now more than ever I can tell you that you can count on the state of Washington to move forward, because that’s the only direction that we know.

And there’s a reason for this: our people want more green jobs. They want less carbon pollution. They want more protection against the ravages of ocean acidification. And they understand this: this is an opportunity as much as a challenge.

And if anyone challenges you on the proposition that we can’t grow a green economy, come on out to the state of Washington. I’ll show you green jobs by the tens of thousands where we are growing this economy. And I’m proud to have one of, if not the most, robust economies in the entire United States because of these efforts.

So we meet today under the mantle of the United Nations, but I think of us as a united people.

We are bound together in what is an urgent and noble cause, knowing that defeating climate change and ocean acidification is both the challenge of our time, and I believe is the destiny of humanity.

So personally, thank you for what you’re doing. Thanks for taking care of the cutest grandchildren on the planet today, my three grand-kids. I appreciate your help.

Thank you.