We have been diligent, if not perfect, about keeping politics off this platform. For anyone who takes climate change seriously, and who understands how important the USA is to the future of the planet due to its outsized carbon footprint as well as its historic geopolitical influence, that is a tough constraint. But this interview is a must read, thanks to one of our favorite climate conversationalists:
Jay Inslee has made climate change the centerpiece of his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. In an e360 interview, the Washington governor talks about why a full-scale national mobilization is needed to address what he calls an “existential crisis.”
Jay Inslee is often called the “climate change candidate.” The two-term governor of Washington state launched his presidential campaign in March at a solar panel installation company in Seattle. He said he was joining the crowded field of Democratic candidates because “we are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.”
Inslee has since unveiled two major climate change proposals. One would require“zero-emission” electricity generation across the U.S. by 2035. The other calls for the federal government to invest $3 trillion over a decade to upgrade buildings, create “climate-smart infrastructure,” encourage “clean manufacturing,” and research “next-generation” energy technologies. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, one of the authors of the Green New Deal, recently tweeted that Inslee’s plans were “the most serious + comprehensive” of any of the candidate’s.
Inslee spoke to Yale Environment 360 about his proposals for reducing emissions, about why efforts to impose a carbon tax in Washington state have failed, and about why he thinks the country is “at a tipping point right now.”
Yale Environment 360: You have built your candidacy around climate change, and that’s obviously an unusual strategy — to run on one issue, even an issue as big as this one. Can you just explain the logic of that?
Governor Jay Inslee: Well, I’m not running on one issue. But I want to make sure that we have a candidate and a president who can focus on this existential crisis, the success in dealing with which everything else depends upon. Because this is not a single issue, it’s all the issues. It’s economic destruction; it’s job creation; it is health care, with pollution killing tens of thousands of Americans. It is a national security issue. So it’s really all the issues, if looked at through the proper lens, and it’s the one that is the most urgent.
When you look at our challenges, this is the one where we will not get another chance. The next administration will either seize this opportunity and initiate a full-scale mobilization of the United States, or our goose is cooked. That’s just the scientific reality.
e360: Some of the other candidates in the Democratic field have now come out with climate change proposals. Would you consider it a victory if climate change becomes a major issue in the Democratic primary but you are not ultimately the candidate?
Inslee: I would consider it a victory if I’m elected to be president. I consider victory being in the White House and leading the country to a full mobilization into a clean energy future.
e360: You have issued two detailed sets of proposals to transform the U.S. economy and get us off fossil fuels. As I read the price tag on those, we’re talking $300 billion a year. Where are we getting that from?
Inslee: One of the places to get it from is, the place where we don’t have disasters. This is a small number relative to the large number, which is the damages that the climate crisis is going to wreak on our economy. That’s what costs a lot of money…
Read the whole interview here.