Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rep. Upthegrove says addressing climate change brings economic opportunities

It’s a busy week for the House Ecology & Parks Committee.

On Tuesday, the committee held a one-hour work session in which Ross Macfarlane of Climate Solutions presented a report entitled “Carbon Free Prosperity 2025”.

Rep. Dave Upthegrove, Chairman of the Ecology & Parks Committee, is eager to dispel the notion that addressing climate change can’t be done during difficult economic times.

“The report that was presented on Tuesday looked at five areas of opportunity that have the potential to create 63,000 new jobs in the Pacific Northwest by 2025,” he said. “It also highlighted some of the strengths that our region has for growing ‘clean-tech’ jobs versus other regions of the country. I think we need to take a very close look at these opportunities, because it could be a huge economic stimulus for us.”

Also testifying in Tuesday’s hearing was Rogers Weed of Business Leaders for Climate Progress. The BCLP is comprised of executives, entrepreneurs and investors from 125 Northwest businesses who are committed to reducing the negative effects of climate change by supporting the transition to a clean-energy economy. Mr. Weed asked the legislators on the committee to put climate change policies in place this session that will, in his words, allow “the free market to do what it does best.” Specifically, Mr. Weed called on the committee to pass legislation to implement a regional cap and trade program.

Rep. Upthegrove noted that the issue of climate change is creating partnerships among business and environmental interests.

“I think [Mr Weed’s] remarks show that strengthening our economy and protecting our environment go hand in hand,” Rep. Upthegrove said. “Ultimately, reducing carbon emissions is important for the long-term economic future of our state.”

On Friday, the committee meets again at 8:00 a.m. sharp in House Hearing Room C. At this session, the Climate Action Team will present their final recommendations, and there will also be a work session on the impact of climate change on low-income communities.

“There’s a tendency to think that ‘going green’ puts a burden on low-income communities because of the costs involved. And yet, when you take a close look at the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather, it’s often the low-income communities that suffer the most damage,” Rep. Upthegrove said.

So if you can make it over to House Hearing Room C bright and early on Friday morning, the information presented will probably be stimulating enough to keep you awake without caffeine. Which is good, because you’re not really supposed to bring food or drink into the hearing rooms.