Today in Trees: WA-UK Climate Initiative Explained, Murray on Chinese Solar Dispute

Last week we reported on a new Joint Climate Initiative that Governor Jay Inslee signed with UK Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker. Today we caught up with Ian Wiggins, a British Official from the British Embassy in Washington, to clarify exactly what this new initiative means.

The main function of the Initiative, according to Wiggins, is to bring in UK climate policy experts on informal conversations a British Consulate was already having in the Governor’s office about climate change. By formalizing these discussions, the hope is that Washington and the UK can inform each other on policy making by sharing past experience.

“As far as impact on policy making, the most important thing here is we’re going to have some really good discussions on what’s worked for us in the UK and what’s worked in Washington,” Wiggins said.

“Those both will feed into the decisions that our respective governments, both on the state level and the national level, will make in the future.”

“Certainly on some of the stuff like market based mechanisms and clean energy technology, I’m hopeful that some of the experience the UK has had as a member of the Emissions Trading Scheme and some of the things we’re doing with our energy bill that we’re putting through Parliament at the moment will help set the course or inform the decisions that are being made on Washington State’s side,” Wiggins said.

“On the other side, some of the discussions about climate risk, energy storage, and particularly on transportation, one of the real big issues on the Washington State side, are some of the things we’re starting to get into over in the UK about which we hope to learn from the experience of Washington State.”

The UK chose Washington as a key partner in these discussions because of Gov. Inslee’s history of progressive environmental policies.

“He was really someone we wanted to engage from the UK government’s perspective,” Wiggins said.

The hope is that by working internationally on a state level, the UK and the US can point to concrete examples of success regionally when talking about climate issues on a federal level.

In other news, Senator Patty Murray released a statement on the Washington based Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) proposal to relieve the national solar trade dispute between the US and China. REC Silicon’s solar tech headquarters in Moses Lake has a high stake in the dispute, with hundreds of jobs in renewable energy on the line depending on the dispute’s outcome.

“It’s abundantly clear that the solar trade dispute between the United States and China is already costing jobs and stifling the critically important solar industry, so I’m pleased that American industry leaders have put forward a commonsense proposal to resolve this problem,” said Senator Murray.

“The ever-expanding solar energy industry supports thousands of good-paying jobs in Washington state, and continued development of solar technology is vital for our environment and the economy, so I’ll continue working with all the parties involved to find an equitable solution for American businesses and consumers.”

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