Last week, the federal government issued a new assessment detailing the impacts of climate change, warning of more wildfires, coastal flooding and severe economic harm.
In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its report also detailing the effects of climate change on extreme weather, sea-level rise and the loss of Arctic ice.
Both reports document that the impacts of climate change are worse than anticipated and coming faster than expected.
We have already seen the impact locally through smoke from increasing wildfires.
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At the same time, voters in Washington rejected Initiative 1631, which was intended to address climate change by imposing pollution fees.
Does this mean Washington voters reject climate change? No, but they are frustrated because they have not found the solution they want.
They know that climate change is real and a threat both to us and to future generations. They know it is such an enormous problem that an international response is necessary. But they also know we cannot wait and that we must begin addressing climate change now, and at the local level.
So what’s the alternative?
Polls show that Washington voters support moving to require 100-percent clean energy in our state. The Legislature will be considering a policy that phases out coal-generated electricity by 2025 and leads to carbon neutrality by 2030.
It would phase in electricity generated from solar, wind, hydro and other clean and renewable resources, reaching 100-percent clean by 2045.
Other West Coast states – California and Hawaii – are already requiring their utilities to use 100-percent fossil-free electricity by 2045. California currently has about 62 percent renewable electricity on its grid, but only 15 percent from hydro.
Washington starts out with a clear advantage with 74 percent clean energy, 60 percent from hydro. Oregon is also considering this. Our states together can have a significant impact.
We know there is urgent need for action. A requirement for 100-percent clean energy is a tangible step that is readily achievable. Change can begin at home at the grassroots level.
Audubon Washington and climate change partners are leading the way with a kickoff meeting for 100-percent clean energy in Tacoma on Saturday, Dec. 8. The public is invited to the meeting at 2 p.m. at Tacoma’s First United Methodist Church.
National Audubon scientists published research documenting how rising temperatures threaten hundreds of North American bird species. As a board member of National Audubon and a former president of our local Tahoma Audubon, I love birds and want to save them.
I also want to make sure we take action now to ensure that future generations can inherit a safe and healthy world. Please join us in support of 100-percent clean energy.
Art Wang of Tacoma is a former state representative for the 27th Legislative District.