Friday, March 07, 2008

State Climate Victory: Green Jobs and Climate Action for Washington!

[This is a guest post by JP Kemmick, cross-posted from ItsGettingHotInHere.org...]

Cascade Climate Network - Washington Lobby DayLast month while lobbying our Washington state legislators for climate change solutions, a legislative aid asked me, “Well, do you want climate change action or green jobs?” Thankfully some of our legislators understand you can’t have one without the other.

Yesterday, Washington state passed a historic climate change action bill. The Climate Action and Green Jobs Bill passed out of the Senate unamended and is now awaiting the signature of Governor Christine Gregoire. Gregoire requested the legislation this session and has supported it all along the way, so there is little doubt that the bill will pass into law early next week.

The bill makes Washington just the fourth state in the nation to enact binding limits on greenhouse emissions in the state, after California, New Jersey and Hawaii. The bill states that the state shall reduce greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020; 25% below 1990 levels by 2035; and 50% below 1990 levels by 2050 and charges the state Department of Ecology with developing plans to achieve these reductions.

The bill also contains a green jobs portion that will help colleges and technical programs across the state which are already interested in green jobs programs really get off the ground and start churning out a new workforce ready for the new green economy. The bill is groundbreaking for coupling reduction emissions targets with support for new green jobs.

The Cascade Climate Network and friends have worked hard to support this bill and it we are excited to have won our first major state climate victory!

However, like most victories these days, there’s plenty more work to do to keep Washington moving forward on the path to a sustainable, just, and prosperous future.

The climate action portion of the bill sets up a strong framework to reduce emissions in Washington, but requires additional follow through from the legislature later this year and next as Washington prepares to work with the Western Climate Initiative cap and trade program.

Supporters of the bill will also have to keep fighting for funding to support the bill’s programs, including the green jobs portion. The House and Senate gave very inadequate funding and the financial commitment from the governor is also much less than the bill initially asked for at only $250,000.

We must continue to pressure our legislators as the session nears its end to guarantee that the bill is fully funded so it can be as effective as it promises.

Click here to get talking points and call Governor Gregoire to urge her to do everything she can to fully fund the Climate Action and Green Jobs Act.

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