What is Initiative 732 (I-732)?
Initiative 732 is a ballot measure that would put a price on carbon emissions in Washington state. The measure will appear on the November 8 ballot and needs a majority of “yes” votes to pass.
What would I-732 do?
I-732 balances a tax on the consumption of fossil fuels with reductions in the state sales tax for consumers and the business and occupation (B&O) tax for manufacturers. By putting a price on the sale or use of certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel generated electricity, I-732 will promote the use of clean, renewable energy sources. This will reduce the amount of carbon pollution emitted in the state and help protect our environment.
The initiative works in this way:
- Puts a price of $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions starting in 2017, increasing gradually to $100 per metric ton.
- Reduces the state sales tax by 1 percent.
- Funds the Working Families Tax Rebate to provide up to $1,500 a year for up to 460,000 low-income households.
- Lowers the business and occupation (B&O) tax on manufacturing to 0.001 percent of gross receipts.
Why is Audubon Washington supporting this measure?
Audubon science shows that climate change is the number one threat to North American birds, including 189 species at risk here in Washington. We have an opportunity to act now to protect birds in Washington. This measure will reduce carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels, which is the main contributor to climate change.
When Audubon published its Birds and Climate Change report in 2014, it sent a signal that birds need climate solutions now. In the time since, Audubon Washington and its 21,000 members have been sharing this message—climate change is a bird issue that requires immediate action—with their communities at town halls, festivals, and the Capitol.
While this initiative will not complete all the work that needs to be done, I-732 will help move Washington forward as a leader on enacting the solutions that birds and other wildlife need to have a chance in a warming world.
How would this measure help protect our birds?
Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change report showed us we have to do two things to protect birds from this threat: 1) protect places on the ground that birds need so that they can be resilient in a warming world, and 2) mitigate additional warming by reducing carbon emissions.
I-732 and other solutions, such as switching to clean, renewable sources of energy, mean less carbon pollution, which means less warming.
How does climate change threaten birds?
Each bird species is finely attuned to a set of environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, and the change of seasons. As the planet warms, the combination of variables that each species needs is changing—often meaning they have fewer places that meet these requirements.
Audubon research confirmed that climate change endangers more than half of North American bird species because their climate ranges—the places with the environmental factors they need—are shrinking and shifting dramatically.
Climate change also changes the distribution of plants and other animals that birds need for nesting, protection, and food, and it intensifies existing threats such as extreme weather, drought and fire.
What changes are we seeing in birds due to climate change now?
Research from Audubon as well as others shows that birds’ ranges are already shifting northward. A meta-analysis by Audubon and BirdLife International confirmed that the majority of climate impacts to birds are negative, and that population declines due to climate are already happening. Every day, more research emerges on how climate change threatens the birds we love around the world, including bluebirds, puffins, and Red Knots.
To protect birds, we need to support solutions such as I-732.
Who else supports I-732?
A wide group including scientists, business leaders, economists, public officials, and social and environmental leaders are supporting I-732. You can read a list of endorsements here.
How would I-732 help people as well as birds?
The effects of climate change are often borne disproportionately by low-income working families and communities of color. The most important way to avert the worst impacts of climate change is to reduce carbon pollution as quickly as possible. The futures of birds and of people in a warming world are intertwined. Protecting clean air, water, and habitats that allow birds to thrive means that people can thrive in a healthy environment, too.
What can I do to help support I-732?
For starters, you can sign our pledge of support. We will keep you updated in the coming months about actions you can take related to I-732. Next, talk to your family, friends, neighbors, and elected officials. Let them know you care about birds and climate change. Ask them to support I-732 because it will reduce the carbon pollution causing climate change.