This year Climate Solutions celebrates our 25th Anniversary. Has it really been that long?
We’ve done a lot of different things over the past quarter of a century—collaborating with farmers and ranchers to harvest clean energy, fighting out-of-state coal companies to power past coal exports, building broad coalitions to pass gold standard policies like the second-in-the-nation carbon pollution cap and the boldest 100% clean electricity laws in the land, and uniting with our west coast neighbors behind clean cars and clean fuels.
It has been quite a ride. When I started working for Climate Solutions in 2008 it was a time full of so much hope on everything, including climate change. Barack Obama was running one of the most inspiring and unexpected presidential campaigns in American history, and was soon sworn in with a massive electoral victory and real commitments to take action to stop global warming. At the same time, there was real belief that Congress and states including Oregon and Washington would pass groundbreaking climate policy to get us on the right path.
It didn’t happen that way.
What started with so much hope ended in such deep disappointment. For a while, we and many in the climate movement were adrift, unsure how to make the big changes that were needed. The path forward was unclear, and we were on our heels.
Fast forward to today, and the picture is quite different. The climate crisis has unquestionably gotten worse since then as shown by the almost daily extreme weather events that are taking such a huge toll.
But climate progress has also moved forward at a rapid clip. Public opinion, grassroots organizing, environmental justice, technological innovation, financing advances, business commitment, policies passed, increased philanthropy in the space, and many others are so much better now than they were a few decades ago.
Climate Solutions has played an important role in this collective effort. As our organization celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2023, we have a lot to be proud of.
We helped to pass a suite of nationally significant state-level climate policies including Clean Fuels Standards and 100% Clean Electricity bills in both Oregon and Washington, and the toughest statewide building standards for new construction in the nation and a second in the nation cap-and-invest policy in Washington.
We and our partners stopped every single proposed coal export terminal despite overwhelming odds, preventing the shipments of tens of millions of tons of coal from Montana and Wyoming to ports along our coasts for export to global markets. These wins were some of the most important climate victories in the history of this region, and prevented a massive amount of coal from being burned.
And so much more.
Despite all of the progress, and it is real, we are still behind on climate change. By a lot.
Which means that regions like ours here in the Northwest have an extra level of responsibility to do more. We need to take all of our momentum and go faster and deeper. Indeed, our progress has positioned us to do so much more.
The core opportunity moving forward for us as an organization, and for the Northwest as a region, is to turn the promise of all of our policy wins and the deep partnerships that have been built into tangible progress on the ground, and to ally with our colleagues in other states to increase the scale of this progress.
Moving forward, we are focused on a few key areas:
- Making climate solutions real by implementing the many laws that we have helped to pass—partnering with allies to ensure that the massive federal and state climate investments moving into the region result in maximum impact to cut climate pollution, grow good jobs, and address environmental justice, and telling those stories so more folks know about the momentum. If we are successful, we will rapidly accelerate the pace at which people start to see benefits like cleaner air because we have more electric buses and delivery vans, and more economic development in rural communities through clean energy projects like wind and solar.
- Advocating for new needed policies, especially in cutting pollution from the building sector and from heavy and medium duty vehicles like trucks, delivery vans, and school and passenger buses.
- Supporting the acceleration of climate progress in the private sector through our recently launched Breaking Barriers Collaborative.
- Continue building a big and powerful movement that aligns the communities most impacted from climate impacts, labor, business, public health, urban and rural communities, and many more. We need a big tent to succeed, and we are committed to listening and learning and acting together with disparate and diverse collaborators and partners to make shared progress.
To meet this moment of incredible opportunity, we are expanding our team. Our Board of Directors is growing and providing guidance and support. We have added great staff, and will soon announce a number of new positions. Please watch for those announcements and help us to find amazing people for these new roles.
But 2023 won’t be all about work. We are also going to do some play to enjoy our 25th Anniversary, and you are most certainly invited to come along for the party with us. After many years without in-person events due to COVID, we are returning with a number of great gatherings. Look for announcements on those coming soon, including our big 25th anniversary bash this fall in the Seattle area.
I want to close by thanking you and everybody that has been along for this ride in ways big and small. So far we have had a lot of wins and plenty of losses and tears. The victories are essential, the disappointments often devastating. Our partners and supporters like you have made it all worthwhile.
We’ve always been about hope, I’ve always been an optimistic person. Come join us soon to celebrate all the brighter tomorrows we have shared together so far, and all the ones to come too. I am feeling incredibly energized to keep at this. Let's go!
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