Gina McCarthy 2024
Let’s be brave now, so our children don’t have to be forced to be braver later.

Speaking at Climate Solutions’ annual dinner last week, Governor Jay Inslee made it very clear what’s on his mind during his final year in office. The Climate Commitment Act, he said, “is a lung-protecting, pollution-controlling, job-creating, nation-leading effort, and we are not giving it up this year, or ever… “

Governor Inslee, Gina McCarthy (former White House National Climate Advisor and former EPA Administrator) and other speakers raised the roof in Seattle, where more than 700 guests gathered for a celebration of our region’s recent climate accomplishments. The event was also a rousing call to action for Washington climate advocates who must defend those accomplishments at the ballot box this fall by defeating I-2117, a cynical initiative seeking to overturn the Climate Commitment Act.

The importance of protecting this landmark climate policy, and accelerating a clean energy transition, resonates beyond the borders of Washington State. Our keynote speaker Gina McCarthy emphasized this with passion: “We cannot let anyone distract us from the work we are doing in the transition to clean energy, because it is essential… [we must] figure out how to move clean energy forward, not in a way that is simply getting it started, but in a way that it’s outcompeting anything else—and do it in the short term, because we have no time to spare.”

Savitha Pathi, Gina McCarthy, Aina Abiodun

Let’s remember that protecting our climate accomplishments isn’t only about stopping the bad things, like the emissions that cause climate change; it’s about protecting our ability to create good things, and a better world. As Gina pointed out to all of us that night: “The Climate Commitment Act and the Inflation Reduction Act have proven that climate change is simply not about sacrifice, it is actually about opportunities—opportunities we have to tackle our climate crisis, lower energy costs, improve our health, keep our families safe, create jobs, spur economic development, and yes. build more sustainable communities.” 

This is a time for climate champions to step forward, as we heard from James Williams, Director of our new Climate Champions Program, designed to partner with and support climate leaders among state elected officials who will pass and defend critical climate and clean energy laws. The need for climate champions, James said, also extends far beyond state legislatures: “we are in the fight of our lives; we can all be champions.”

Gov. Inslee receives thank you card

With our event focused on climate champions, we wanted to take the chance to recognize and thank Governor Jay Inslee. His leadership has played a catalytic role in advancing effective climate policies not only in Washington, but also at the federal level, as McCarthy made sure to point out. In recognition of his seriously remarkable accomplishments, I presented Governor Inslee onstage with a “thank you” poster on which dozens of dinner attendees had inscribed individual messages of gratitude. 

His climate leadership, like that of Gina McCarthy and the many elected officials and community leaders who attended our dinner, is truly inspiring. After this high-energy event, I’m confident that we will continue to inspire each other as climate champions—to create solutions now; and to accelerate the transition to a just, sustainable future for ourselves and for those who come after us.

As we are learning, revolution is not a one-time event,” said event host and Climate Solutions board member Aina Abiodun, quoting poet Audre Lorde. Poignantly summing up the urgency of the moment, she added: “Let’s be brave now, so our children don’t have to be forced to be braver later.”

Alongside the speakers quoted above, and me, our event speakers included Climate Solutions Deputy Director Savitha Reddy Pathi, board president Emiko Atherton, and Climate Solutions alumnus KC Golden. 

Here is a gallery of photos from the event, courtesy of Della Chen Photography and Climate Solutions. We hope you’ll share these, and your own photos, with your friends on social media. Please tag Climate Solutions and #SolutionsNow, and follow us on Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and Bluesky.

I have deep gratitude for our speakers, sponsors, captains, hosts, board and staff, technical crew, the band that led us into the ballroom to kick things off, volunteers, and supporters for making this event possible. Climate Solutions’ supporters are an integral part of our organization, and we are deeply grateful to those who have already donated towards our $350,000 goal. If you haven’t had the chance to make your donation yet, it’s not too late. Here are some ways to give

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Author Bio

Gregg Small
Gregg Small

Executive Director, Climate Solutions

Gregg brings nearly 30 years of experience working on climate, environmental, and public policy issues, including 25 as an Executive Director. At Climate Solutions, Gregg oversees a staff of more than two dozen policy experts, campaigners, innovators, and researchers across Washington and Oregon, providing strategic direction for one of the most effective regional climate and clean economy organizations in the nation. Under his leadership, Climate Solutions and our many allies have successfully passed some of the best climate policies in the United States. 

Prior to coming to Climate Solutions, Gregg served as the Executive Director of the Washington Toxics Coalition for 7 years and as the Executive Director of the California-based Pesticide Watch for 5 years. During that time, he played a leadership role in creating and developing a number of leading coalitions working on environmental health issues, including the Toxic Free Legacy Coalition,Californians for Pesticide Reform, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Bodies. At Climate Solutions, he helped to found the Washington-based Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy and Renew Oregon.

Gregg began his professional career as an organizer for Green Corps, working in Washington, DC, Vermont, and California. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Dickinson College.

When not at work, Gregg spends time with his family and raising awareness about Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease that his son Jude has and that he is passionate about finding a cure for.