Editor’s Note: Jay Inslee is the governor of Washington and a Democratic candidate for president. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
We are out of time for waiting, debating and half-measures. America needs bold climate action now. And the only way we’re going to get it is if we elect a president who will make defeating climate change the No. 1 priority of the United States.
That is why I am running for president – because if defeating climate change isn’t job No. 1, it’s not going to get done. If elected, I will be the president who gets it done, just like I have as governor of Washington state, a state that is moving forward on building an economy run on clean energy.
From floods in Iowa and Nebraska to fires in California, to hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rico, we can no longer escape the fact that climate change is not happening in some far-off distant future. It is happening now, in communities across America – and it requires an immediate response.
Climate change is a matter of great peril, but also one of great promise. We can pioneer the industries of the future, create millions of good-paying jobs and build the clean energy economy of the future.
In other words, climate change is not more important than the economy – it is the economy. And it’s time for a new national vision to take it to the next level.
So, how can we do it? Our new national mission will have four specific goals:
First, we will power our economy with 100% clean, renewable and carbon-free energy, and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution with an aggressive sector by sector strategy.
Second, we are going to create millions of good jobs in every community by making massive investments in clean energy development and deployment.
Third, we will focus on justice and inclusion as a centerpiece of this economic transformation, to ensure that no groups are left to bear the cost of the transition and everyone benefits from new jobs and investment. In this mission, those who are hit by climate change first and worst are the first to benefit.
And, finally, we will end billions of dollars in subsidies to fossil fuel industries – and channel that investment into jobs in our new clean-energy economy.
If the task we face now feels monumental, it is. If it feels difficult, it will be. The most powerful special interests, big oil and coal, who are spending millions to impede action on climate change, won’t just give away their power and their profits. And we can’t wait for President Donald Trump to understand the science and the physics. We don’t have that kind of time.
That’s why fighting climate change can’t be somewhere down the page on a laundry list of things to do. It requires building a national mandate for bold and audacious action now and a full-scale mobilization of the federal government.
I’ve dedicated my life in public service to defeating climate change. And while I’m proud of what we’ve gotten done in Washington while I’ve been governor – huge investments in education and infrastructure, the highest minimum wage of any state along with Massachusetts, one of the best paid family leave policies in the nation, strong equal pay laws, the first net-neutrality protections in the nation, and major steps to reduce gun violence – none of that will matter if we don’t tackle the growing issue of climate change.
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So, let’s commit to putting American ingenuity, innovation, creativity and hard work into an all-out effort to solve this problem.
We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it. We can all be heroes, joining together in a grand mission to save those living on this little blue planet.
We have a very short time to act. Whether we shrink from this challenge or rise to it is the vital question of our time.