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Why We Support a 100% Clean Energy Standard

Audubon Washington is urging the state legislature to support climate policy that takes swift and effective action to reduce carbon pollution, the number one threat to birds.

Editor’s Note: On Monday, January 22, 2018 Audubon Washington and Climate Solutions will co-sponsor a “100% for Climate” Lobby Day in Olympia to underscore the need for Washington state to accelerate adoption of real solutions to the climate crisis. Participants from across the state will meet with their state representatives to advocate for a 100% Clean Energy Standard, a price on carbon pollution, and a clean fuels standard to move beyond oil. Please click here for additional details and to join us in Olympia.

A top legislative priority for Audubon Washington is to build public and political support for climate policy that brings swift and effective climate action to Washington state. Specifically, Audubon Washington is leading efforts – and is joined by a broad-based coalition of environmental organizations, businesses, and communities – to pass a 100% Clean Energy Standard during the 2018 legislative session. Passage of this policy would set the state on a path toward 100% clean energy by 2050, including the phasing out of coal from Washington’s utility rates by 2030. It would also make Washington a true climate leader as the first state in the country to ban new gas for electricity generation.

“Audubon’s vision is for a carbon free Washington,” said Gail Gatton, executive director of Audubon Washington. “Our support for a 100% Clean Energy Standard builds on our longstanding commitment to supporting policies that will protect birds and people from the growing threat of climate change. We are confident there is strong voter support for this policy, and are building the political power required for bold action to be taken by the legislature this session.”

Benefits of a 100% Clean Energy Standard

Clean energy and energy efficient technologies are rapidly improving and becoming less expensive, making them more broadly accessible. But to reach full-scale adoption, we need to transform the way we produce and consume energy. That starts with a commitment to a steady shift to 100% clean energy. A 100% Clean Energy Standard policy would require all new resources acquired by a utility, including power purchase agreements, to be clean—setting us on a path to zero-carbon electricity over the course of the next generation.

Initial research conducted by Audubon, Climate Solutions and their partners shows that this policy would achieve an approximately 70 percent reduction in electricity-sector carbon emissions by 2035, and full decarbonization of Washington’s electricity sector, the second largest source of state emissions, by the 2040s.

Not only will the policy reduce carbon emissions, but it will also help create thousands of new jobs in the state. Washington utilities also expect to comply with significant investments in storage technologies, a major international growth area that will contribute to significant investments that create thousands of jobs right here in Washington.

Support for Complementary Policies to Achieve Maximum Impact

Understanding that a mix of effective policy solutions are required to achieve meaningful reductions and have maximum impact, Audubon also supports passage of complementary climate policies that will be put forth to the legislature this session:

  • A price on carbon: A price on carbon will encourage investment in alternative energies like solar and wind, grow middle class jobs, improve public health, and accelerate the transition away from polluting fossil fuels. A price on carbon can also be structured to be fair and equitable for our rural and disadvantaged communities.
  • Advancing clean fuels: We must end our reliance on fossil fuels to power our transportation sector, the leading source of carbon emissions in the state. A clean fuels standard will create more home-grown jobs, boost small business growth and provide people more choice at the pump. It’s working in Oregon, British Columbia and California, and leadership in Washington will grow the West Coast market for clean fuels.

In the Pacific Northwest, climate change threatens our most cherished marvels – from our shrub steppe ecosystem, home to the Sagebrush Sparrow, to The Salish Sea, an area of critical importance for marine birds. Across the country and the world, extreme weather events and forest fires have destroyed homes and communities. The intensity of these events is posing greater threats due to the effects of climate change. These climate-related impacts present both a social, and economic cost. We have a moral obligation to protect birds and people today, and in the future.

We hope you’ll join us and call upon your elected officials to demonstrate bold leadership and act on climate during this legislative session. We must act now.

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