Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon represents Washington’s 34th District. He serves as Chair of the House Environment & Energy Committee. Rep. Fitzgibbon joins us as a “Wire Insider” to discuss how he hopes to build on the ambitious climate agenda of the 2019 session and where the climate policy discussion may be heading next.
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The areas where we made the greatest progress in 2019 were on decarbonizing the electrical grid and improving the efficiency of large commercial buildings. Those are very high impact and transformative actions for those sectors, which are respectively the second and third largest sectors of greenhouse gas emissions in our state. The area where we still haven’t made substantial progress is in reducing transportation emissions, so that will be my primary focus. The transportation sector constitutes between 42 and 45 percent of Washington’s overall emissions. The main vehicle to achieve that is with the passage of a low carbon fuel standard although there are other strategies, including a zero emissions vehicle mandate and improving the deployment of electric vehicles more broadly so that we can continue to make incremental progress on transportation.
Beyond that, we have more to do. I think we can further incentivize forestry policies that sequester more carbon in our working forests, agricultural policies that incentivize more sequestration in soils on farm land and I think that we need to think more creatively about how to reduce emissions in residential buildings. This is a long term problem, no package of bills we could pass in 2020 would get Washington where we need to be on our greenhouse gas trajectory alone. This is something we’re going to have to work on year after year because the problem is intensifying every year.
I expect us to be able to make progress this year on reducing emissions in transportation, in residential buildings, in building materials. I also expect us to tighten up our existing state goals so they provide a more clear roadmap for how we achieve those goals. Whereas we currently have fairly weak greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets in state law and no clear plan for how to achieve them. I think that’s the next step from a process standpoint. Let’s tighten up those goals and set up a process by which the legislature gets regular recommendations on how to achieve those goals.”