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Update to State Climate Pollution Limits Passes Both Chambers

Bill puts into place state targets to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, but key bills to achieve these targets still remain. 

OLYMPIA, WA – Today, the Senate passed the Climate Pollution Limits bill (HB 2311) in a 28/21 vote. This vote follows the House passage of the bill 55/41. The Climate Pollution Limits bill, sponsored by Representative Slatter with the companion bill sponsored by Senator Das, updates Washington state’s goals for reducing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions to bring them in line with current science and include the role of sequestration in our state’s climate policy. However, vital bills to achieve these targets like Clean Air Act authority update (HB 2957) and the Clean Fuel Standard (HB 1110) are still awaiting votes in the legislature. Legislators have seen increase pressure from the public, where polls continue to show significant support for immediate steps to address climate change.

Washington’s current emissions reduction targets were set more than a decade ago and do not reflect current science or the urgency of the climate crisis. With this bill’s passage, the Legislature continues its work since approving initial state greenhouse gas emissions limits in 2008. This update puts Washington on the path to achieving net zero emissions by midcentury, doing our part to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius the global scientific consensus target.

The bill sets the stage for achieving these greenhouse gas emission targets through policies that are equitable and invest in Washington’s workers. The bill also recognizes the role of natural and working lands for sequestering carbon and raises the profile of that important work statewide for our overall climate efforts.

A top 2020 Environmental Priorities Coalition legislative priority, HB 2311 was also supported by groups representing labor, social justice, health professions, and people of faith. Additionally these groups have all called on the legislature to pass bills to achieve these targets.

“Washington needs to be a place that roots our decisions in the best available science,” said Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “This is an important step but now our legislature has to pass the Clean Air Act Authority bill and a Clean Fuel Standard. The right goals only work if we have the tools to reach them.”

“From more wildfires to extreme heat and air pollution, health professionals are already seeing the climate crisis harm the health of people in Washington state,” said Ken Lans, MD, Past-President of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “This update to our greenhouse gas reduction goals finally takes the latest science and the urgency of the climate crisis into account. It is a much-needed action that will protect the health of our communities by reducing both health-harming air pollution and our state’s contributions to a warming planet. Health professionals applaud legislators for taking this important step and will continue to press for further action.”

Reducing climate-related risk factors such as air pollution helps protect public health, and since such pollution disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color, curbing it is an issue of justice as well. HB 2311 sets the stage for bold emissions reduction and carbon sequestration policies to move Washington state toward climate justice.

“The Climate Pollution Limits bill is one step in a long journey toward a more sustainable and livable future,” said Emi Grant, a fellow with Our Climate, a youth-focused climate policy organization. “We are in dire need of progressive policy and time has run out for anything less than sweeping, systematic change. We’re glad the Legislature has realized the importance of bold climate action and I hope for the sake of my future that they continue to move toward progress.”

Through carbon reductions in all sectors including transportation, buildings, and industry, the policy guides Washington state’s efforts toward limiting the most catastrophic effects of global climate change. The bill includes harnessing the carbon-sequestering power of Washington’s natural and working landscapes, which also supports healthier forests, farms and wetlands.

“We are glad to see the Legislature recognizing the importance of setting strong, science-based limits on pollution and acknowledging the carbon-capturing power of Washington’s forests, soils and shorelines,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state director for The Nature Conservancy. “This is a great first step, and Washington needs bold policies like the Clean Fuel Standard and Clean Air Act authority update to help us achieve the goals we’re setting with the passage of HB 2311.”

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Additional background on the bill:

HB 2311’s guidelines for investing in Washington’s natural and working landscapes and reducing carbon across all sectors will create jobs in the outdoors and in the clean-energy economy, garnering it support from the Washington State Labor Council and the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy.

Recent polling finds environment, climate, and transportation are top issues for voters, and hearings on HB 2311 and its companion in the Senate, SB 6272, showed strong support for bringing state emissions-reduction goals up to date.

 

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The Environmental Priorities Coalition is made up of more than 20 statewide organizations working to safeguard our environment and the health of our communities in the legislature. For the 2020 legislative session, we have adopted four priorities essential for healthy communities and a thriving environment. Download a fact sheet about them here.

TAGS: Climate, Legislative