Cresting the hill

If you don’t dare to hope, you can’t do climate work for very long.  But after the events of the last few weeks, let's not dare to despair.

We are cresting a big hill – dare to believe it – right now. 

National elected leaders are leading.  Last week, President Obama stood up to what Candidate Obama called “the tyranny of oil,” rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating ExxonMobil for burying the truth about the climate crisis.  And as world leaders prepare to gather in Paris for the climate summit in early December, a global clean energy transition is launching.

Northwest elected leaders are leading.  Senator Merkley is leading federal efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground on public lands, while joining Senators Cantwell and Murray in pushing the Dept. of Interior to account for carbon costs in coal leases. (Coal’s worth much more in the ground.)  Governor Jay Inslee is capping carbon in Washington State. King County Executive Dow Constantine is leading the way on path-breaking local climate actions. And just yesterday, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales led the effort to end new fossil fuel infrastructure development in the Rose City – the City Council passed the resolution unanimously.

Leaders lead when people push. Citizen leaders – that's all of us – are behind each of these landmark victories. We pushed and prodded, marched and testified, straightened up your back and insisted on the healthy, clean energy future we know we can build.  Shell’s retreat from the Arctic and the coal industry’s rapid decline are the climate writing on the wall, becoming legible; and we wrote it.

We’re winning these victories because we said NO: We can no longer sit still for continuing investments in the fossil fuel infrastructure that locks us in to climate crisis. We don’t have another dime or minute to waste going backward.

And we’re winning them because we said YES:  We have the guts and the will and the brains to win our best and only viable future, a clean energy future.  Believe that too. It’s not just stout opposition that’s stopping fossil fuel expansion; it’s the clean energy transition, taking off. We’re collaborating as never before to build stronger, more equitable economies, healthier communities, and broadly shared prosperity…making continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure as unnecessary and uneconomic as it is unconscionable.

The view from this hilltop is promising, and the climb was well worth it.  But we know there are mountains beyond. Let's keep pushing our leaders. And THANK them when they deliver, like now.

Above all, thank YOU – for leading the leaders.


Author Bio

KC Golden

former Senior Policy Advisor, Climate Solutions

KC shapes policy and communication strategies, with the goal of changing what's "possible" so we can do what's necessary. "Cynicism," he insists, "is capitulation."

He has served as a special assistant to the Mayor of Seattle for clean energy and climate protection initiatives and as an Assistant Director in Washington's Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development, where he directed the state's Energy Policy Office. From 1989 to 1994, he was Executive Director of the Northwest Energy Coalition, a regional alliance working for a clean, affordable energy future.

KC is a leader in the national climate movement, serving on the boards of (where he is Interim Board Chair) and the US Climate Action Network. He has also been active in the utility industry, helping Seattle City Light become the first major carbon-free electric utility in the late 1990s, and as a Governor's representative to the Executive Board of Energy Northwest, a regional public power consortium. 

KC was one of Seattle Magazine's "Power 25" most influential people, and its #1 "Eco-Hero." In 2012, he received the Heinz Award for Public Policy for his lifetime achievement as a climate advocate and policy architect.

KC earned his Bachelor's Degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a Kennedy Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he received a Master's in Public Policy. He retired from Climate Solutions' staff at the end of 2018.

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