Gov. Inslee says Glasgow climate conference needs imagination, optimism
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, this week will feature a couple Washington leaders, including Governor Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
The COP26 summit will bring parties together from around the world to “accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.” As the Associated Press explains, the biggest names — including President Joe Biden — take the stage Monday, and then they will leave. That’s when other government officials will work on the details.
Over the weekend, on MSNBC, Gov. Inslee was asked if he sees the upcoming global climate summit in Glasgow as a “make-or-break moment.”
“You cannot overstate the depth of this crisis,” Gov. Inslee said. “I really think that we need two things now to fight this crisis. Number one, we need to have a sense of imagination to really understand what we’re facing. It’s very difficult to imagine a different world — one where we don’t have forests, one where our shorelines are inundated, one where we are hit by floods — it’s hard to imagine but we got a taste of that last summer.”
He pointed to wildfires that struck along the West Coast, along with unusually high temperatures, droughts, and flooding in the Midwest.
“We got a taste of what the future is. But it’s just a taste of the looming, unfortunately, disaster movie that we face,” he said.
“But number two [of] what we need is a sense of optimism that we can bring these new technologies to bear to grow jobs and grow economic growth in our country and our state, because we’re doing it,” he added.
There are 25 states that are part of a climate alliance, including Washington, which Gov. Inslee says have adopted measures that go beyond what will happen in the reconciliation work from Congress. Those states have some of the largest economic growth as well, he noted.
“This is a moment to really understand that we need to adopt both an understanding of the criticality of this and a can-do attitude. In Glasgow, you’re going to see that,” the governor said.
On Monday, Mayor Durkan announced an executive order directing departments in the City of Seattle to accelerate action toward net zero emission buildings, healthy and equitable transportation, and clean energy workforce development. These actions are projected to reduce the city’s building carbon emissions by an additional 27% by 2050.
“From a new normal of smoky summers and dangerous heat in Seattle, I have never seen the impacts of climate change that we are now facing,” Durkan said. “We’ve invested billions to support green transportation, efficient buildings, and other policies to mitigate climate change, but we know we need to do more to reach net zero. Cities are leading the way to take real action — our work in the last four years is making a commitment to reduce our building emissions by nearly 50% and lead the nation on climate justice and equity.”
Included in the order from the mayor is an expansion of free transit for Seattle Public Schools students, and an expansion of Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets, as well as taking legislative and permitting action to incentivize electrification, and launching a $1 million pilot to convert heavy-duty diesel trucks operating in the Duwamish Valley to electric.
The announcement was made in a virtual press conference with Durkan speaking from COP26, where she is representing the city of Seattle.