Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) announced his presidential candidacy today, hoping to seize a key moment in the climate change debate.
Inslee, 68, a former Seattle congressman, has a long history of campaigning on climate issues and has been a vocal critic of President Trump since he entered the Oval Office in 2017.
In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine last year, Inslee insisted that the Democratic Party should make climate change a priority during the 2020 race.
WATCH Inslee’s announcement video here:
“We went to the moon and created technologies that have changed the world—our country’s next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time: defeating climate change,” Inslee said in the video.
“This is our moment, our climate, our mission. Together, we can defeat climate change. That’s why I’m running for president,” he added.
Projections on the effects of climate change are increasingly dire, and Inslee argues that combating it should take precedence over all else — though he rejects the premise that it can be neatly separated from other issues to begin with.
Extreme weather has exacerbated refugee crises and fueled immigration, for instance. Heat waves and poor air quality affect health.
Inslee has praised the Green New Deal — a sweeping proposal by some Democrats in Congress that, among many other environmental and economic goals, calls for a fully renewable energy supply within 10 years — for elevating public discussion of climate change and acknowledging the scale of the action needed.
But he has also described it as more of an “aspirational” outline of principles than a policy document.
His environmental policy record in his home state is long.
In 2015, he ordered Washington’s Department of Ecology to impose a cap on carbon emissions.
He created a fund for clean energy, and the state now has extensive solar energy infrastructure and electric buses.
While economic damage is a concern for opponents of limiting fossil fuels, Washington had the highest G.D.P. growth in the nation in 2018, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Inslee also tried unsuccessfully last year to get the Washington Legislature to vote on a carbon tax, which would have been the first in the nation; voters rejected the proposal in November.
He then proposed a different series of actions, including running the state’s electric utilities fully on renewable power by 2045, requiring buildings to be more energy efficient, promoting electric vehicles and cutting down on hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in air-conditioners.
Hydrofluorocarbon emissions have been growing faster than any other form of greenhouse gas emissions.