Global Climate Mobilization

Governor Jay Inslee's Action Plan for American Leadership on the Global Climate Crisis

"Through our scientific genius we have made of this world a neighborhood, and now through our moral and ethical commitment, we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools."

- The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speech at Drew University
February 5, 1964


Today the United States and the world stand at a crossroads unlike any that we have encountered before. Within the next decade, either inaction will set in motion a worsening global climate crisis that will lead to devastation, or our nation and the world will respond to build a modern, green and more just global economic future.

The choice is ours.

Restoring America’s Leadership Role in Global Climate Action
Promoting Resilience, Justice and Stability in the Face of Climate Disruption
Setting Strong Climate and Labor Standards in International Trade
Driving Investment to Build a Sustainable Global Economy
Taking on Fossil Fuels and Creating Climate Accountability

The question of whether the international community responds effectively to this challenge is one that will impact every American and will determine the lives, health and welfare of billions of people on Earth. America can either choose to lead the world in building a clean energy economy that creates jobs at home and protects human rights around the world, or we can choose to fall behind other nations in the 21st century economy as we bear the increasing costs of climate change, in economic and humanitarian crises.

President Donald Trump has chosen a cowardly path of ignorance, withdrawing America from the global climate community as the world hurtles toward the brink of irreversible climate disaster. On June 1, 2017 — two years ago this week — President Trump announced his plan to pull out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, abandoning American leadership on the greatest crisis facing our nation and our planet.

Trump’s withdrawal sent a clear message to the world: Under his leadership the world can no longer rely on America to pull its weight in responding to this global crisis, or to step up and help those most vulnerable right now to climate impacts. Trump has built a foreign policy based on isolationism and xenophobia. And through his friendships with dictators, Trump has deliberately sabotaged America’s domestic climate progress, and effectively handed U.S. climate policy over to polluters and fossil fuel executives.

States and cities have stepped up to fill the void, including with the U.S. Climate Alliance co-founded by Governor Inslee on the same day President Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement. We can turn the tide, but we need leadership from Washington, D.C.

Two years after the Paris Agreement withdrawal, we must change course — and fast. It is time for bold American leadership, and a fundamental recalibration of our nation’s posture in the world. That starts with recommitting the United States to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. And while rejoining the Paris Agreement is a crucial first step, it is far from sufficient to meet the challenge before us. Confronting the climate crisis must be the foremost priority for our nation at home, and it must also become central to America’s relationship to the international community.

Governor Inslee’s Global Climate Mobilization is a bold and comprehensive vision for a 21st century American foreign policy that puts climate action front-and-center, for the first time in history. This plan proposes 27 detailed policy initiatives that would return America to a position of international climate leadership and take new, aggressive steps to propel rapid global progress in stabilizing the climate, reversing the damage of pollution, and building sustainable prosperity.

Inslee will take action on Day 1 — and every day thereafter — to reverse Trump’s destructive and inhumane policies on the climate crisis. Inslee’s Global Climate Mobilization plan is a whole-of-government approach that will utilize all the tools available in diplomacy and foreign relations, international finance, trade, aid, and assistance — with an unwavering focus on global climate action.

Inslee’s plan starts with action at home: His Climate Mission agenda – including his 100% Clean Energy for America Plan and his Evergreen Economy Plan – lays out a detailed 10-year mobilization to slash pollution, move America toward 100% clean energy,  and catalyze $9 trillion in investment that will grow 8 million jobs building a more just, innovative and inclusive clean energy economy. Combined, these plans will exceed the envisioned U.S. pathways and timetables for climate pollution reductions under the Paris Agreement, by achieving 50% reductions in U.S. emissions by 2030, and net-zero domestic climate pollution by no later than 2045.

While this ambitious action plan begins at home, to succeed, it must be joined with a global commitment to confront a global challenge. Inslee’s vision for American leadership on bold global climate action calls on our nation’s “can-do” spirit and challenges the United States to re-engage within the community of nations to take on the climate crisis. It sets forth solutions that strengthen international climate cooperation and global geopolitical stability; confront looming humanitarian crises; re-engage in the difficult work of diplomacy; and expand economic prosperity, justice, and democratic participation. Governor Inslee’s plan is organized around five strategies for action.

Together these strategies will establish a high-road global economy built to ensure lasting economic value and meet human needs. At the same time, they will block off the low road, which pushes out external costs to be borne by those in the future, and vulnerable people and natural systems now, degrading human rights. The pathway laid out here offers the promise of making the right choice to protect Americans and the world from the worst impacts of climate change, and to build a strong, vibrant, and just global green economy.

Restoring America’s Leadership Role in Global Climate Action

By mobilizing the country for climate action, recommitting to the Paris Climate Agreement, and putting climate action at the center of American foreign policy, the United States can lead the way in responding to the rapidly intensifying global climate crisis and accelerating the transition to a more sustainable global economy. In doing so, our nation can simultaneously re-establish its place as a leader, trusted partner, and reliable actor in the community of nations, while restoring and strengthening ties with our closest allies and nations in the most vulnerable parts of the world.

Recommitting to and Increasing Ambition in the Paris Climate Agreement

Governor Inslee’s plan starts with recommitting to the Paris Agreement on day one of his administration — restoring American participation in the urgent global movement to defeat climate change. The United States must ensure that the Paris Agreement works as designed, by joining other countries to increase the level of ambition for climate action in regular five-year commitment cycles, but at a degree of higher ambition so that the agreement can be effective against the climate crisis. The United States must step up support for enabling institutions for international cooperation and international assistance to assure we can achieve our goals, and raise the status of cooperation on climate change to the forefront of American diplomacy. Governor Inslee’s Global Climate Mobilization plan includes:

  • Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement — and immediately putting the United States on course to meet and exceed its initial pledge under the agreement: a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of a 26% to 28% reduction in climate pollution by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. This will be achieved through taking domestic policy action like Governor Inslee’s 100% Clean Energy for America Planand Evergreen Economy Plan.
  • Leading by example and quickly putting forward an amended NDC under the agreement, based on the policies and measures already set forth in Governor Inslee’s Climate Mission, to commit America to a 50% reduction in climate pollution by 2030. The deadline for submission of the next round of targets under the Paris Agreement is 2020. Many other countries are already stepping up, but the current U.S. failure to even consider doing so is damaging this process and holding back the effectiveness of the agreement.
  • Launching high-level bilateral negotiations and technical dialogues with major economy countries to encourage them to join the United States in submitting more ambitious targets for 2030 in line with science, as soon as possible. The EU is on track to exceed its current 2030 target (a 40% reduction in climate pollution), with several of its nations pressing for more ambitious action,and China may beat its timetable for reaching peak emissions by 2030, as well.U.S. support for raising the level of ambition would be  instrumental in setting the global community on a path to meet targets identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 
  • Fulfilling the U.S. pledge in the Paris Agreement to mobilize its share of the global $100 billion climate finance commitment for developing countries through 2025, and developing a new and higher target for global investment thereafter. To accelerate the alignment of international investments with the aims of the Paris Agreement, the United States will call for transparency in accounting for flows of public money from any country to fossil fuels, detracting from climate finance efforts.
  • Preconditioning cooperative engagement with the United States across the board upon countries’ commitment to taking ambitious climate action.. This is an international extension of Governor Inslee’s Climate Mission that will make climate action a fundamental tenet of U.S. foreign policy and strengthen our position in foreign affairs afflicted by fossil fuel dependence.
  • Joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) — a global coalition of national and sub-national governments, businesses and organizations committed to phasing out coal power plant pollution by 2030 Under Governor Inslee’s leadership, Washington became the first U.S. state to join the PPCA when it was announced at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Germany, in 2017. The PPCA platform is consistent with the 2030 coal power phaseout that Governor Inslee has proposed for the United States as part of his 100% Clean Energy for America Plan.
  • Improving access of under-represented stakeholders to the UNFCCC process, including sovereign indigenous communities and youth. The United States will request that the U.N. appoint Special Envoys for Indigenous Communities and Climate Change and for Intergenerational Equity and Youth Voices on Climate Change.
  • Recommitting the United States to strengthening the transparency and monitoring provisions of the Paris Agreement to increase confidence that all countries are fulfilling their current and future commitments under the agreement using the same rules. This starts with data, and includes U.S. support for the World Meteorological Organization’s proposed Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System with use of satellite systems like NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 to vastly improve our understanding of the sources and totals of regional and global emissions.
  • Supporting subnational action and cooperation on climate action, including the U.S. Climate Alliance, which Governor Inslee co-founded in 2017, the international Under 2 Coalition, and the “We Are Still In” coalition. State, local and tribal governments, universities, businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith communities, and other civic institutions remain committed to the Paris Agreement, and their leaders are some of America’s best ambassadors for engagement on global action. The Inslee Administration will integrate their leadership in international engagement. This includes formation of a new President’s Advisory Council on Regional Climate Cooperation, to continue and enhance subnational cooperative climate programs with their counterparts in other countries.
  • Catalyzing private sector ambition commensurate with national commitments. Building on the recognition in the Paris Agreement of the importance of non-state action, the Inslee Administration will convene a CEO summit and call on all major companies to meaningfully commit to the Paris Agreement. American companies that pride themselves as leaders will be challenged to formally commit to the global 1.5 degree goal; establish greenhouse gas inventories; commit to science-based pollution reduction and sustainability goals; and report periodically on their progress. Furthermore, Governor Inslee’s plan calls for carefully monitoring the participation of fossil fuel corporations in ongoing global climate discussions with the potential to exclude them if they continue to oppose action, just as international tobacco treaty discussions froze out tobacco companies that denied, delayed and distracted amidst international efforts to confront the health threat they posed.
  • Expanding UNFCCC and Paris Agreement focus on transparency in Parties’ implementation of “just transition” policies, beginning in 2021, so that all countries will need to share how they are taking care of their workers and communities in a rapid energy transition.
  • Strengthening supplemental enforcement of the Paris Agreement by instituting domestic policies that use American economic power to compel ambitious climate action in our international partners. This includes incorporation of an enforceable climate standard into U.S. trade agreements, and the establishment of a carbon duty on imports, to promote vigorous implementation of aggressive climate pollution reduction plans in other countries under the Paris Agreement.
  • Re-constituting the Major Economies Forum (MEF), with a primary focus on establishing sectoral goals (e.g., clean power, clean transportation, clean industry, efficiency, electrification, land sector emissions), to quantify targets by type of climate pollution (e.g., CO2, methane, HFCs), and to reduce fossil fuel production and infrastructure. The MEF brings together the top 20 global greenhouse gas emitters, which are responsible for more than 70% of climate pollution, in part to deepen discussion of some of the critical elements of the Paris Agreement. The new MEF will be led by the Secretary of State and elevated to the level of Foreign Ministers to serve the broader goal of elevating climate action to the top tiers of international relations. In taking up these measures the MEF will be able to revive its previous “Action Agenda” of cooperative initiatives to achieve reductions in particular sectors, a process that stopped at a research and exploratory phase before the 2016 election. Further, MEF countries can partner with other nations outside the MEF to help improve their Paris Agreement commitments, such as adopting sectoral targets.  
  • Rejecting the Trump Administration’s efforts to promote U.S. fossil fuels abroad, including the recent attempts to brand gas as “freedom gas,” and reviewing U.S. international engagement to prohibit promotion of fossil fuels or high-carbon infrastructure inconsistent with existing and new, more ambitious Paris Agreement targets. This includes prohibiting the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC, formerly OPIC), Export-Import Bank and Trade and Development Agency (TDA) financing for fossil fuel projects. And pressing through the U.S. role in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) and multilateral development banks (e.g., International Finance Corporation) to achieve fossil-free portfolios in development aid and finance, and to enact new policies that restrict fossil fuel lending through financial intermediaries.

Ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol

With overwhelming bipartisan support in the United States, the Montreal Protocol entered into force in 1989 to tackle the hole in the ozone layer created by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and propellants. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan proclaimed the Montreal Protocol to be “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date.” It has support from all countries, industry buy-in, a reliable multilateral fund to assist developing countries with compliance, and strong enforcement provisions.

The most prominent replacement for CFCs and other fluorinated gases is now hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are in many cases thousands of times stronger than carbon dioxide as a warming agent. HFCs are currently the fastest-growing greenhouse gas. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, finalized in 2016, successfully adapted the instruments of the protocol to create a global phasedown of HFCs. Altogether, the reductions in emissions from the Kigali Amendment and improvements in energy efficiency with the switch to non-HFC alternative appliances can help avoid a full 0.5 degrees Celsius of climate change by the end of the century — an enormous contribution toward preventing its worst impacts. In addition, because they are shorter lived than carbon dioxide, concentrated action on HFCs and other “super pollutants” such as methane and black carbon can have a much faster impact on warming. There are abundant and safer alternatives available now for HFCs, and the Kigali Amendment has broad bipartisan support in the United States and from domestic industry. Nonetheless, the Trump Administration has refused to submit it to the U.S. Senate for ratification. Under Governor Inslee’s leadership, Washington was just the second state to pass comprehensive legislation to eliminate HFCs. Now, he wants to share that success with the nation, including by:

  • Immediately submitting the Kigali Amendment to the U.S. Senate for ratification. Kigali is supported by a strong bipartisan majority in the Senate, and it is supported by American manufacturers, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 
  • Directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pursue action to reduce HFCs using existing regulatory authority (those authorities not precluded by the Mexichem decision), while also working with Congress to create implementing legislation.
  • Working with American industry to increase their competitiveness in the global market for HFC substitutes to support the global phasedown.  American manufacturing industries have already invested more than $1 billion in technologies that slash HFCs. With ratification of the Kigali Amendment, domestic manufacturers can leverage their competitive advantage to create more than 30,000 additional American manufacturing jobs and increase U.S. exports by $5 billion.
  • Providing American diplomatic and technical capacity to help developing countries accelerate implementation of their targets under the Kigali Amendment to achieve greater benefits of avoided warming globally, particularly focused on countries in the warmest regions, which are in the category with the longest timetables for phasing-down their emissions under the agreement.  

Accelerating Global Action on Methane and Black Carbon

Methane is another powerful super-pollutant. Its warming impact is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 100 years, and 86 times more potent over 20 years. According to a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the global rate of methane emissions jumped 50%, between the 2007-12 and 2013-18 time periods. A significant driver of U.S. methane pollution increases has come from natural gas production using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has taken action to roll back methane pollution standards promulgated under the Obama Administration.

A third super-pollutant, black carbon, is produced from fossil fuel use in electricity generation and in transportation, as well as from agricultural field burning and from burning wood and peat as a cooking fuel, which is common in developing countries.  Black carbon pollution causes millions of premature deaths around the world, and is the most solar energy-absorbing component of particulate matter, capable of absorbing one million times more energy than CO2, accelerating the impact of warming on glaciers and in the Arctic. But here, too, the Trump Administration has moved in the wrong direction. In May 2019 it blocked the Arctic Council’s statement reaffirming regional collaboration to reduce this pollution.

Given the urgent importance of reducing these climate pollutants, and the length of time it would take to create a new global agreement focused on these pollutants, the Inslee Administration will take targeted action using existing institutions as part of,  and also alongside, the Paris Agreement, in the form of a “moneyball” approach: putting together as many clubs of countries as possible, and using regional and sectoral alliances to create a collective equivalent of a global agreement on methane and black carbon. That includes:

  • Expanding the Arctic Council’s action on dangerous pollution, beyond black carbon, by also setting a new target for methane emissions. The United States  and seven other countries that ring the Arctic Circle negotiated targets  to reduce black carbon emissions 25% to 33% by 2025, compared to 2013 levels. The United States will recommit to those targets. The Council’s members also account for roughly one-fifth of global human-caused methane emissions, with most of these emissions coming from the oil and gas sector. The United States and Canada committed in 2016 to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector 40% to 45% by 2025. The Inslee Administration will propose this target as the floor for an Arctic Council-wide methane target that would be more comprehensive across all sectors. The 13 observer countries to the Arctic Council, including China and India, are responsible for a larger proportion of Arctic pollution than the eight full members, so the Inslee Administration would support the Council offering a conditional membership to each that accepts these methane and black carbon targets. 
  • Proposing companion targets and technical programs on methane and black carbon for the Major Economies Forum, G20, G7, and APEC forums. Some of these arenas for cooperation could be used to win agreements to lower tariffs on technologies that reduce these pollutants and to increase sharing of non-proprietary solutions.
  • Expanding U.S. support for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce  Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) and proposing that all parties to the CCAC adopt reduction targets for these pollutants modeled on the nationally determined targets of the Paris Agreement. The CCAC was created by the United States and five other countries prior to the Paris Agreement to focus on reduction of methane, black carbon, and HFCs — and now it includes more than 60 member countries and more than 70 non-state partners. The United States will restore its leadership within the CCAC by restarting the replenishment effort and pushing to move the CCAC from its current phase of primarily funding pilot projects to creating platforms for reduction of emissions from super-pollutants.
  • Strengthening the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA), which includes more than 280 nations and non-state members, with a focus on expanding cooperative activity from enhancing climate resilience in agriculture to also include mitigation of methane and black-carbon pollution.

Committing to Full Implementation of the CORSIA Agreement to Reduce Climate Pollution from International Civil Aviation

Aviation is the fastest-growing sector of per capita emissions in transportation throughout the world. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) was established in 2016 to reduce climate pollution in international civil aviation, and adopted under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). CORSIA aims to hold climate pollution from international civil aviation at 2020 levels, which could prevent up to 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions — 10 times what U.S. households emit each year, and it could do even more once its targets are extended and tightened. In May 2019, every major American airline announced their commitment to the agreement. Governor Inslee’s plan commits the nation to CORSIA implementation, and to press further in decarbonizing domestic and international civil aviation. This includes:

  • Demonstrating U.S. leadership by making America a participant in the initial pilot and first phase of the program, between 2021-2026 — compliance with the system from all parties is voluntary until 2026 — and encouraging other nations to join in the agreement as soon as possible. 
  • Engaging with nations that have not yet signed the CORSIA agreement, and using bilateral engagement to press and also assist them in progress toward joining. Eighty-five percent of global aviation activity originates in over 70 countries that participate in CORSIA. However, nations that are among the largest homes for international routes, including India and Russia, have not yet joined. The Inslee Administration would further this discussion in the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue and the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Combating Climate Change, including: adding to the existing tracks of cooperative research in this area to bring in the assets of U.S. and Indian national laboratories and universities; and partnering U.S. and Indian commercial airlines on clean energy solutions.
  • Working with American industry leaders to launch a companion program for domestic air travel, committed to achieving more ambitious pollution reductions than CORSIA delivers on international routes. Rather than freezing emissions at a set date, Governor Inslee’s plan will reduce emissions in a manner consistent with medium- and long-range decarbonization goals, which include targeted policies promoting innovation and deployment of technologies to help reduce aviation-sector climate pollution. Inslee will also  task the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to leverage advances gained with the support of the Department of Defense (DOD) to create the most advanced aircraft efficiency and alternative energy program for the airline industry in the world.
  • Increasing federal government focus on decarbonizing aviation, as called for in Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan. This includes policies that drive energy efficiency, the use of alternatives like advanced low-carbon fuels, and expanded U.S.-based and international support for research and development for low-and zero-emission aircraft. Finally, Governor Inslee’s plan calls for repealing President Trump’s tax breaks for private jets — a massive, wasteful giveaway to the wealthy that promotes unnecessary climate pollution from luxury travel.

Ramping up Action to Accelerate Emission Reductions in International Shipping and Ports

While climate pollution from international shipping in 2012 accounted for just 2.2% of global emissions, it is estimated to potentially grow between 50% and 250% by 2050 if left unchecked. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been steadily taking action to address this problem, including: adopting initial energy efficiency measures in 2011; promoting technology cooperation and technology transfer on efficiency measures in 2013; and establishing new rules for gathering data on fuel consumption of ships in 2016. In April 2018, the IMO released a vision and strategy plan, looking forward to building programs to reduce carbon intensity in shipping by at least 40% by 2030, and 70% by 2050, and reaching peak climate pollution from international shipping as soon as possible. Governor Inslee’s plan includes:

  • Putting the United States at the forefront of efforts to turn the IMO strategy on reducing climate pollution in shipping into a reality. In consultation with American industry leaders, Inslee will convene a public-private task force led by the Maritime Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, with participation from the Departments of Energy and State to accelerate the creation of domestic regulations and legislation that can achieve or improve upon the current IMO climate goals.  The Inslee Administration will then seek adoption of these same standards among G7 and G20 countries, scaling up to the full IMO membership.
  • Coordinating with other IMO parties to impose a fee on the purchase of bunker fuels by large vessels flagged from countries out of compliance with IMO climate pollution-reduction targets.
  • Supporting climate action and air-pollution reductions at ports, such as the World Ports Climate Action Program. This global program, in which the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are members, encourages governments to adopt policies for carbon pricing and provide funding for projects such as: increasing efficiency of supply chains for ports; implementing renewable power-to-ship solutions; accelerating development of infrastructure for electrification of ship propulsion systems; and moving toward decarbonizing cargo-handling facilities in port. As noted in Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan, many ports are located in or near urban corridors, and their pollution adversely impacts public health, particularly low-income communities and communities of color.

Promoting Ocean-Smart Climate Action and Global Collaboration on Oceans Protections

Oceans are a critical life-support system for the planet — and they are under siege because of climate change. Since the start of the industrial revolution oceans have absorbed approximately 90% of the extra heat that climate pollution has trapped in the atmosphere – leading to an increase in global ocean temperatures, with implications for sea ice and biodiversity. They have also absorbed one-third of global carbon pollution produced by human activities, which during the past two centuries has driven ocean waters to become 30% more acidic.Increased ocean warming and acidification — combined with other stressors such as reduced oxygen levels, local land-based pollution, increased plastic pollution and systemic overfishing — are already having significant, adverse impacts on fisheries, aquaculture, and marine ecosystems that sustain communities around the world. The IPCC estimates that a 2-degrees Celsius climate change temperature increase would result in the loss of 99% of the world’s coral reefs — significantly more than the levels of coral reef loss anticipated under a 1.5-degree Celsius scenario.

Confronting these challenges requires action at home, but truly effective ocean-smart climate action is dependent upon global collaboration and sustained global action. In hosting the 2019 meeting of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP25), Chile intends to emphasize the importance and scale of the many climate change-driven impacts the world’s oceans are already experiencing. Furthermore, oceans need to be understood as a crucial part of the solution set.

The Inslee Administration will take a global leadership role in further international action to protect our oceans, including:

  • Joining Canada, France, Chile and other nations, and several U.S. states, in the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification (OA Alliance) — a global coalition of national, subnational and indigenous jurisdictions, NGOs, businesses and other partners dedicated to taking action to protect coastal communities and livelihoods from the threat of ocean acidification. The OA Alliance was co-founded by Governor Inslee and other West Coast leaders, flowing from their leadership on ocean acidification in the Pacific Coast Collaborative.
  • Championing ocean-smart climate action in UNFCCC fora, including broad international understanding and action on how each country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement can incorporate and mitigate ocean-based climate impacts, as well as incorporate ocean-based solutions ranging from aquaculture to blue carbon to offshore wind and tidal energy.
  • As called for in Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan, investing in and enhancing domestic programs that improve the health of marine and freshwater ecosystems, and restore wetlands, mangroves, and coastal habitats. This includes EPA Geographic Programs, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) coastal restoration and salmon recovery programs, as well as Army Corps of Engineers shellfish aquaculture permitting, and other programs.
  • Promoting domestic and international efforts to confront plastic pollution. This includes policies that reduce consumption of single-use plastics, and others that promote more widespread and efficient recycling practices with greater integrity and that establish markets for recycled materials, such as recycled-content standards. Already NGO-industry collaboratives, like the Trash Free Seas Alliance, have made steps to confront these challenges.
  • Promoting international progress in fisheries management policies and best practices aimed to recover and support more sustainable fish stocks that will be better able to adapt to climate change. This includes confronting nations that continue to support over-fishing.
  • Taking action to promote marine-protected areas at home and abroad, including rejecting any actions taken by the Trump Administration to repeal or shrink the size of marine national monuments.

Leading New International Partnerships to Reduce Emissions from Lands and Forests

Land-based greenhouse gas emissions account for over one-fifth of global climate pollution, and in some countries account for more than half of total emissions. Meanwhile, slowing the loss and speeding the recovery of global forests could contribute 20% to 30% of what humanity needs to achieve by 2030, with enormous simultaneous benefits for species and social justice. While the biggest reductions in greenhouse gases to date have been from avoiding deforestation and stimulating reforestation, many of these gains are in jeopardy with a resurgence in legal and illegal development in forest-rich countries. This plan proposes an intensive U.S. focus on furthering sustainable land use and forestry practices around the globe. It includes:

  • Developing an ambitious global goal for land-based conservation through 2050. Encouraging diplomatic partners to accelerate national and cross-border conservation commitments at scale, with an emphasis on ecosystems critically at risk from climate change, and creating resilient refugia for threatened species.
  • Prioritizing low-deforestation commodity sourcing in federal procurement and in U.S. trade policy. The federal government is a major purchaser of beef, soy, palm oil, wood products, and other “forest-risk commodities” that drive deforestation. The Inslee Administration will update federal procurement policies to preferentially source these commodities from nations and regions that have committed to reducing deforestation.
  • Fully funding Lacey Act implementation, and working with international partners to assist with enforcement of illegal logging activities and trade in endangered timber species, as well as stepping up efforts to provide more transparency on logging and other land-use activities in certain jurisdictions.
  • Using existing trade relationships to promote deforestation-free supply chains and certified commodities (e.g., sustainable palm oil, Forest Stewardship Council, fair trade) in partner countries. Leveraging trade promotion policies and programs to attract private sector investments to areas of a partner country’s forest plan that need external investment. This is a win-win: American consumers get more sustainably produced goods, and partner countries get private sector investment in improved forest supply chains.
  • Harnessing the analytical capacity of our national laboratories, the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the EPA, and U.S.-based Earth observation systems to strengthen the assessment of land-sector emissions worldwide. Providing technical support and innovative policy options to international partners to better reduce emissions from both natural and working lands, including agriculture and forestry.
  • Increasing the amount of development assistance available for reforestation activities, especially in countries with larger forest-carbon assets, such as Indonesia, and in central Africa.
  • Developing specific actions to mitigate land-sector emissions for the United  States to include in its amended commitment under the Paris Agreement, and leading diplomatic efforts to ensure all countries not already doing so to include land-sector emissions in the next round of Paris Agreement commitments, a critically overlooked element in a significant number of national targets.
  • Promoting international best-practice forest governance, which includes: recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities; use of free and informed consent when governments or third parties pursue changes to land occupied or used by these peoples; and general social and environment safeguards related to forest management and economic development in forested areas. The Inslee Administration will also actively participate in international efforts to hold accountable governments that adopt forest governance policies that mistreat indigenous peoples and forest dwellers.

Promoting Resilience, Justice and Stability in the Face of Climate Disruption

In the spring of 2019, carbon dioxide — the most common form of climate pollution — reached atmospheric concentrations of 415 parts per million, a level not seen in the entirety of human history. Even as global efforts are undertaken to reduce climate pollution and avoid the worst harms of climate change, certain impacts are now unavoidable given the longevity of CO2 as a heat-trapping gas. Climate change is already driving: more-intense hurricanes and more-frequent wildfires; droughts and water resource challenges; heat waves; coastal and inland flooding; and the spread of tropical diseases throughout the globe. These climate impacts will drive global instability. And their impact is already being felt, as we’ve seen: in the conflict in Syria, where a three-year climate-related drought forced 1.5 million people from rural farming areas to the urban periphery; in crop failure and displaced persons in Central America; and internal migration in Bangladesh and an increasing number of small island states.

The security threats and risks of climate change have been made perfectly clear in the last twelve Worldwide Threat Assessments of the U.S. National Intelligence Community, including the latest released by National Intelligence Director Dan Coats in January 2019, which states, “Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security.  Irreversible damage to ecosystems and habitats will undermine the economic benefits they provide, worsened by air, soil, water, and marine pollution.”

Under President Trump, American policy has denied the scientific, humanitarian, and security realities of climate change. The Inslee Administration will bring a dramatic change: Advancing foreign and domestic policies that address the human and environmental impacts of climate change that are occurring today. Governor Inslee's plan will adapt America's immigration policy to the reality of climate migration, increase assets for climate security, and lead on a more coordinated global response to increased climate-related disasters.

Fulfilling America’s Obligation to Protect Displaced Communities & Asylum Seekers

Due to climate change and other factors, the world faces a global crisis of displacement unlike any since World War II. An estimated 68.5 million people have been displaced worldwide, including nearly 30 million refugees and asylum seekers. This instability is also further fueling an ascendant global right-wing nationalist movement that is pushing nations toward inhumane and unjust treatment of vulnerable populations — building walls between nations rather than partnerships within the global community.

Climate change is contributing to an expanding refugee crisis both directly, with 24 million people displaced on average each year around the world since 2008 due to extreme weather events, and indirectly, as climate change impacts force people to migrate in search of food, water, shelter, or to avoid conflict. Addressing the worldwide expansion of refugees, including increasing numbers displaced by climate change, is an essential part of restoring America’s global leadership and meeting the humanitarian and security challenges in the 21st century. Governor Inslee’s “America’s Promise” immigration policy plan provides a humane and thoughtful approach to U.S. refugee policy, including:

  • Raising the ceiling for annual refugee admissions to the United States to allow for the acceptance of historic numbers of refugees, meeting and eventually exceeding the target of 110,000 refugees that was set during the final year of the Obama Administration. This is a minimum standard for the United States to reclaim its historic leadership role in resettling refugees. These damaging caps serve only to undermine our international leadership and rob our country of contributions from those eager to participate in our economy and society. Governor Inslee will right this unprecedented wrong.
  • Ending the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy that forces asylum seekers from Central American countries to await adjudication of their case in Mexico, rather than in the United States, as has historically been the case. This policy was blocked by a U.S. federal judge in April 2019, but is ongoing while appeals are in process.
  • Order the withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border in support of immigration enforcement and canceling the use of non-immigration funding streams currently being reprogrammed to fund the border wall.
  • Reverse Trump Administration decisions that eliminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protections for immigrants and refugees from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and for individuals covered by the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program.
  • Launching a regional refugee resettlement initiative that brings together the efforts of national governments, NGOs, and international partners such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to collectively manage the unique needs of applicants from the Northern Triangle region. Such an approach will: help reduce the length of third-country stays; help facilitate necessary security and medical checks; and train and support in-country partners that can identify and refer cases of individuals in greatest need of resettlement.
  • Directing the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security to expand cooperation with the UNHCR and the Mexican government to strengthen procedures and institutions for applicants seeking asylum in Mexico.
  • Identifying alternative pathways to bring qualifying refugees to the United States, diminishing the need to transit through U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry.
  • Ensuring qualified U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials, who are critical to systems supporting legal immigration to the United States, are conducting credible fear interviews of asylum seekers. In fiscal year 2018, 75% of the nearly 100,000 individuals seeking asylum passed their credible fear interviews and advanced to the next step in the process, demonstrating the scale of the need for asylum.
  • Restoring and significantly expanding the scale of caseload management systems for connecting refugees and asylum seekers with infrastructure to ensure effective participation in hearings, including legal aid resources and interpreter services. From 2016 to 2017, the Department of Homeland Security piloted the Family Case Management Program that achieved 99% participation appearance rates for immigration hearings. Despite its success, the Trump Administration abandoned the program.

Addressing Climate Change and Root Causes of Displacement in Central America and Migration to the United States

Climate change is a direct driver of displacement of people from their homes and communities in Central America — and has especially caused migration to the United States by families from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. A report by the World Bank estimates that climate-related migration could drive 4 million people to flee Central America by mid-century. In particular, water scarcity and degradation of the viability of coffee growing in the western highlands of Guatemala and other agricultural areas is being severely exacerbated by climate change. These ecological and economic changes undermine the foundations of whole communities and regions, and increase migration to the United States and elsewhere. These factors, combined with rising gang violence and the need to strengthen government institutions, mean U.S. engagement is critical to advancing a cohesive strategy that serves the entire region’s interests.

The United States and Central America will benefit from greater American assistance to the governments of the Northern Triangle nations. The Trump Administration’s attempts to deter these migrants through fear and cruelty, and to bully regional governments rather than work with them, have failed. It is imperative that the U.S. government work with governments of countries from which migrants are traveling, as well as those of countries through which they travel and in which they settle, on a joint approach to responsibly integrate the processing of asylum seekers into our overall immigration system. Governor Inslee’s America’s Promise plan, released in May 2019, includes:

  • Restoring and expanding federal foreign assistance funding for the Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In April 2019, the State Department diverted $450 million in funding for these nations that supported anti-poverty, education, and food and agriculture assistance programs in these three countries.
  • Restoring the Central American Minors (CAM) program to allow for reunification of qualifying minor children from the region, and expanding in-country processing of immigrants seeking entry to the United States from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Trump Administration has closed international offices of the USCIS, undermining in-country processing efforts. Working effectively with national governments and immigrant assistance organizations to establish personnel and facilities that can conduct advance screening and processing of applicants will help eliminate the incentive to make dangerous overland journeys to America and reduce the volume of crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Evaluating options for adoption of the U.N. Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) to ensure U.S. participation in a globally coordinated strategy to address the challenges migration poses. The GCM: establishes systems for information sharing and analysis to predict and address migration; deals with the impacts of both sudden-onset extreme weather events and slow-onset climate change impacts; and strengthens regional and international cooperation to address irregular migration caused by climate change and other root causes.
  • Advocating for the creation of a U.N. Special Rapporteur on Climate and Security to oversee the emergence of global climate-related security threats, conflict, instability, and humanitarian crises, and regularly report on the effectiveness of the U.N. response to these threats.  The Rapporteur will work with the Security Council and other member states to create a comprehensive plan for improving the capacity of the U.N. to coordinate responses to climate-related displacement and disasters.

Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods to Stabilize Climate-Impacted Communities

In addition to overt disasters, other negative impacts of a changing climate are also already actively felt today. This is especially acute where high percentages of the population still earn their livelihood directly from working the land or harvesting natural resources. These ecological and economic changes undermine the foundations of whole communities and regions, pushing increasingly desperate families toward emigration. Such widespread distress is increasingly common in many rural and resource-dependent communities around the globe. This has triggered an epidemic of suicides among farmers who bear witness to the human toll of ecological disruption, as agricultural workers find it increasingly difficult to manage economic uncertainty and plant crops in a changing environment of extreme drought and flooding. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in India alone nearly 60,000 farmer suicides can be directly attributed to climate impacts, with farmers causing national suicide rates to nearly double.

In the face of such unpredictability, ever greater numbers of formerly rural workers are migrating to cities, adding further stress on oversaturated labor markets and contributing to high levels of unemployment and underemployment. This impact is especially acute for younger workers. As a result of these cascading drivers of social disruption and economic dislocation, the number of people vulnerable to the ravages of climate change extends well beyond the number directly dislocated as climate migrants. The United States should join national governments, NGOs,  and international institutions in addressing these long-term challenges to sustainable livelihoods, including:

  • Incentivizing and supporting the ability of other countries, especially large emitters among the emerging economies and the most vulnerable Least Developed Countries, to prepare their own national climate assessments modeled after the annual U.S. National Climate Assessment — with an aim to increase internal capacity for understanding current climate impacts and future threats by region and sector of the economy.  This outreach work will be overseen through the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which produces the annual U.S. National Climate Assessment, and the Department of State. Countries developing this capacity will be eligible for a special designated fund administered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on reducing climate and security threats.
  • Directing USAID, the State Department, and other development and relief agencies to work across programs and prioritize support for locally driven efforts to: stabilize local economies and provide for sustainable livelihoods in the face of climate disruption; increase economic opportunity and wealth creation; and reduce the need for families to migrate. These efforts will target ongoing development as well as strategies for disaster response and recovery, and address the root causes of large-scale family migration, by promoting livelihoods that can be supported in the face of climate change — addressing increasing water scarcity and resilience to disaster.

Creating Capacity for Coordinating and Deploying U.S. Assets on Climate Security

For years, official U.S. government reports and testimony from senior Department of Defense and intelligence officials from Republican and Democratic administrations have confirmed that climate change is an increasingly critical national and global security threat. In other words, America’s collective, official, authoritative intelligence community agrees that climate change should factor into security and defense interests. Furthermore, the Department of Defense understands the realities of climate change, which in the past year alone has caused more than $8 billion in damages at bases Tyndall AFB (FL), Camp Lejeune (NC) and Offutt AFB (NE), in climate-related major disasters.

Nonetheless, under a president who denies climate change, America still lacks a coordinated and integrated whole-of-government operation for building resilience against, and responding to, unfolding global climate change impacts, including major disasters and displacement events around the world. Governor Inslee’s plan will direct America’s security and foreign policy apparatus to lead on a 21st century strategy to address head-on climate and security threats. It includes:
  • Creating a whole-of-government approach to climate and security rather than allowing parts of this critical discussion to remain siloed in different departments and agencies. Immediately tasking the White House National Security Council (NSC) to conduct a thorough assessment of U.S. assets for prediction of climate stressors in vulnerable nation-states, and review currently existing capacity for development, diplomatic, and military responses. The NSC will convene to recommend a plan to the president to enhance coordination across agencies and departments. A newly established Deputy National Security Advisor and Assistant to the President for Climate & Energy Security — an elevation of this portfolio in the NSC over all previous administrations — will be charged in part with executing this strategy, will enhance coordination and build capacity across agencies and departments, including NOAA, NASA, State, USAID, Defense, and the combined intelligence agencies, to enable rapid response to climate-related security risks and events. This includes requiring all departments and agencies to develop and implement Climate Security Roadmaps (successors to the former Climate Adaptation Roadmaps).
  • Reinstating the Presidential Memorandum on Climate Change and National Security, and mandating that the National Defense Strategy, the Quadrennial Diplomatic and Development Review, the Quadrennial Energy Review, the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, and the Quadrennial Industrial Review include focus on climate security impacts.
  • Elevating climate priorities and the capability of the Department of Defense to assist in climate action, by designating a Climate Change and Security Lead within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This position will be responsible for coordinating DOD equities in climate resilience and response. This includes incorporation of climate and security planning at the J-5 Joint Chiefs of Staff planning level, and for humanitarian assistance, recovery planning, operations and planning.
  • Establishing a U.S. Special Envoy for Climate & Security that will oversee a new Climate and Security Office at the Department of State. Despite several years of discussion of coordinated climate and security capacity in forums like the G7 and the UN Security Council, international cooperation on these threats is still in its infancy. A U.S. Special Envoy for Climate & Security housed in the State Department and working across the federal government would ensure greater focus on international engagement and collaboration in this area at both multilateral and bilateral fora and at the regional and global levels. The Climate & Security Envoy would coordinate diplomatic outreach in all countries through every U.S. embassy and USAID mission by establishing designated climate and security officers in these facilities. All U.S. ambassadors and directors of USAID missions would be trained in enhancing climate and security resilience and preparedness.
  • Expanding and investing additional resources into the joint Department of State-DOD Security and Contingency Fund, to empower it to help confront the climate crisis. This program was created in 2011 “for State and the DOD to jointly fund and plan security-related assistance.” The stated purpose of the fund as created was to “address rapidly changing, transnational, asymmetric threats,” and advocates have rightly pointed out the utility of this fund in responding to the climate crisis. In particular it can support interagency response to help overseas communities in overseas preparedness, response and recovery to climate disasters and impacts.
  • Requiring the National Intelligence Council to establish a Climate and Security Center that will produce new annual and decadal stand-alone global climate threat assessments, coordinated with federal science agencies and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date understanding of the science of climate attribution to extreme and slow-onset events, as well as predictive capacity based on observations and modeling. This assessment will be jointly delivered to the Executive Office of the President and Congress, with a non-classified version released to the public.
  • Demonstrating U.S. leadership amid great power competition in the Arctic by immediately ending Trump Administration plans — currently put on hold by court order — to engage in oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Additionally, the Inslee Administration will advance legislation through Congress to create authority for a U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Arctic Affairs, responsible for consistent high-level representation of the United States at a level equal to that of U.S. allies and peer competitors, and creation of an interagency working group to establish the fastest way of surging new disaster response, communications infrastructure, port and physical infrastructure, and other investments in Alaska to support enhanced economic activity in America’s largest state and the world’s northernmost ocean.
  • Convening regional climate security dialogues with international partners. These dialogues will be jointly organized by USAID, DOD, and the State Department to address existing resilience and critical climate-related threats to national and regional security, including: extreme weather events; livelihood insecurity; domestic and transboundary resource scarcity and conflict; sea-level rise; and migration. The aim of these dialogues will be to establish resilience priorities and implement plans that enhance national and regional security, with a focus on vulnerable developing countries.

Anticipating and Deploying International Disaster Assistance to Address Loss and Damage

A 2018 U.S. Geological Survey study predicts that by mid-century, thousands of low-lying atolls in the Pacific will be uninhabitable because of climate-induced sea level rise. There has already been significant internal migration directly attributable to climate change. And according to the World Bank, more than 140 million people are expected to be driven from their homes by climate change by midcentury.

During the past 10 years, Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries have been leading a charge to create an international mechanism to attend to climate impacts that are largely beyond adaptation. They have worked to get these kinds of climate impacts recognized in the U.N. climate negotiations as “Loss and Damage.” There are two categories of Loss and Damage climate events: slow-onset threats, such as sea level rise; and repetitive extreme weather events to an extent that recovery is either impractical or impossible. Working out how to form an effective and cooperative international response to these kinds of impacts now encompasses the range of some of the hardest issues in international cooperation, including significant expansion and distribution of early warning and preparedness systems, disaster risk and response, and migration of displaced persons. Some of these challenges will be extremely difficult to adequately address, such as the loss of a homeland or loss of the basis of a culture through elimination of traditional labor practices and institutions that can be thousands of years old. 

The UNFCCC initiated cooperative momentum on this set of issues by creating the Warsaw Mechanism on Loss and Damage in 2013, and that led to a path forward in the Paris Agreement. With President Trump’s disengagement from international climate cooperation, America has rejected a constructive role in the creation of a stable regime to attend to these issues; in turn, he has forfeited the good will created with some of the most vulnerable countries in the world with whom we carefully negotiated the provisions on Loss and Damage in the Paris Agreement. If we fail to execute these cooperative programs, and those countries getting hit first and worst by climate change see a lack of resolve to implement these solutions, we also risk a larger and more dangerous erosion of the platform of consensus that made the Paris Agreement possible. Such an outcome would affect stability around the globe and leave the most vulnerable people on the planet with no lifeline in the face of increasing harm. Governor Inslee’s plan will proactively seek cooperative solutions to these issues by:

  • Expanding U.S. participation in the Warsaw Mechanism on Loss and Damage under the UNFCCC. The Paris Agreement calls for enhanced cooperation among the parties to the agreement on a range of issues, including: early warning systems; emergency preparedness; slow onset events; comprehensive risk assessment; risk insurance facilities and climate risk pooling; and resilience of communities, livelihoods, and ecosystems. With these priorities established, the United States will accelerate its work across all relevant agencies involved in all major multilateral and bilateral forums to implement these measures and create a special program administered through USAID under the Global Climate Change Initiative to assist in work with vulnerable countries. 
  • Working with the recommendations of the Protection Agenda of the Platform on Disaster Displacement and the Nansen Initiative on Disaster-Induced Cross-Border Displacement, supported by the United States, to form an effective means to work directly with highly threatened nations and communities on displacement aimed, in part, at creating an expanded capacity to take in communities displaced by climate change.  

Prioritizing Climate Security in the U.N. Security Council

At present there is no higher international body capable of elevating global security risks and mobilizing international cooperation on these risks than the U.N. Security Council. While climate change has been debated a number of times before the Council, and climate security provisions have made their way into a few Council resolutions, so far this has not resulted in robust initiatives aimed at managing or reducing climate-related security risks. The United States will work to promote the mobilization of the broader U.N. system on implementation of a response to problems of Loss and Damage and other climate and security risks, which has decades of experience and greater capacity to work on human displacement. To take up these challenges, Governor Inslee’s plan includes:

  • Appointing a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who not only understands the climate challenge, and is capable and committed to keeping it before the Security Council, but who will also operate with a mandate to expand engagement on climate change beyond the UNFCCC. The United States will reintroduce a debate on climate and security in the Security Council, and more importantly, it will work to ensure that the threat posed by climate change is well understood in broader security threats taken up by the Council day to day, and that any U.N. responses to those threats, in turn, grapple with their climate-related constraints.
  • Prioritizing work on climate-related security in the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations so that it: improves the effectiveness of U.N. institutions working on climate change and security; engages countries in the work of better orienting U.N. institutions to cooperatively respond to these threats; and helps countries seeking assistance on climate and security threats to the information they need. Working with the State Department’s Bureau for International Organizations and Bureau for Oceans, Environment and International Scientific Affairs, it will also help to channel vulnerable countries to the best American capacity to assist them in improving technical and policy measures to respond to these threats.
  • Advocating for the creation of a U.N. Special Rapporteur on Climate and Security to oversee the emergence of global climate and security threats and regularly report on the effectiveness of the U.N. response to these threats.  The Rapporteur will work with the Security Council and other member states to create a comprehensive plan for improving the capacity of the U.N. to coordinate responses to climate-related displacement and disasters.

Setting Strong Climate and Labor Standards in International Trade

Historically, American trade policy — and most international trade agreements — has often been an impediment to effective climate action. America’s trade agreements have frequently preferred corporate profits over protections for workers, consumers, public health, and the climate or the environment. This profits-over-people approach to trade has led to a series of missed opportunities. International commerce should be a tool for helping to lift nations and communities out of poverty, and supporting mutual economic growth and benefit. Furthermore, strong labor and environmental standards — whether reversing child labor, guaranteeing fair pay and the right to organize, or halting the flow of toxics into the air and water — can allow responsible companies to compete on the basis of value and innovation. Instead, trade rules have too often been used to undermine worker and environmental protections — lowering pay, eliminating jobs, and threatening the planet with climate change. 

In 2019, both the climate crisis and growing global economic inequality demand a new approach to trade. America must use trade and international investment to advance the public interest. Trade agreements have created tremendous new economic opportunities and economic efficiencies, but they have also created winners and losers. And the enforcement of trade policies should not keep as their focus the protection of international businesses and investors, but should require worker protections, set minimum wages, and demand climate accountability. America’s trade policies bring us more closely into relationship with other countries, but these countries must also insist upon stronger labor, health and consumer standards — creating a race to the top in how economic policies affect working families and all humans both at home and abroad.

Ensuring Enforceable Climate Standards in any U.S. Trade Agreements

U.S. trade policies, trade agreements, and trade relationships should all be evaluated to ensure they are consistent with the swift and just transition to a global carbon-free future. Where necessary, they should be revamped to ensure strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards that protect both people and the planet. Aligning our interests in trade and climate action will include:

  • Applying a new and enforceable climate standard to American trade agreements, to condition their terms upon each party’s commitment to adopt, maintain and implement policies specifically to fulfill their commitments to the Paris Agreement, and to take other actions, such as investing in global climate mitigation and adaptation, and adopting and implementing other agreements such as the Kigali Amendment. This follows foundational precedent set by the “May 10 agreement” between Congress and the George W. Bush Administration in 2007, which required that in U.S. trade agreements, all “Parties must adopt, implement and effectively enforce laws, regulations and all other measures to fulfill the Parties’ obligations” under seven different international environmental agreements, including the Montreal Protocol, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and the Convention on Marine Pollution.
  • Ending the current model for dispute resolution — the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system — in U.S. trade agreements, while including basic investor protections to encourage investments that further the public interest. Past trade agreements have contained provisions that have given foreign and domestic private-sector investors broad powers to sue governments over climate protections and environmental standards, and other domestic policies, before unaccountable third-party panels that have been unbound by precedent or subject to appeal. These ISDS systems have been used by fossil fuel companies to challenge and undermine government policies meant to control pollution and protect public health, natural resources, and the environment. These systems are incompatible with climate-safe, smart, 21st century trade policy, and a new paradigm is needed.
  • Revising North American trade policy in a way that directly confronts climate change and implements strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards that help the United States meet climate action goals. Currently, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) negotiated by the Trump Administration does not contain sufficiently enforceable labor or environmental standards, nor does it even mention the term “climate change.” Clearly, we must do better.

Ensuring Accountability for Labor Standards and Human Rights in Trade

U.S. trade policy has too often treated labor and environmental standards as ancillary to other economic and social objectives within agreements. This has resulted in trade policies that have left a legacy of worker insecurity, stranded capital investments in industrial communities — growing environmental inequity and unchecked climate burdens. Instead, well-crafted “High Road” trade policies with meaningful labor and environmental standards at their core can promote economic growth while defending workers’ rights and aggressively advancing climate protection and environmental stewardship. However, this can occur only when these standards are fully integrated within international agreements, with enforcement authority, and backed by sufficient resources to ensure compliance. Every American trade agreement will ensure strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards that protect both people and the planet, including:

  • Ensuring that U.S. trade policies recognize robust standards for labor rights (alongside environmental protections) as core tenets of all agreements. This is fundamental to climate-safe trade. These efforts must: modernize and correct shortcomings of previous agreements; make gains in enforceability; extend a labor rights agenda to new partners; and expand the range of issues covered to address emerging labor rights challenges.
  • Implementing the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Core Labor Standards to provide a benchmark for robust worker protections, elevated centrally within agreements. These standards build on the ILO Declaration of Universal Fundamental Labor Rights including: "(a) freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; (b) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; (c) the effective abolition of child labor; and (d) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation." These four standards have grown over time to include other foundations of a strong civil society. The U.S. government has previously ratified some but not all core labor standards. Governor Inslee’s plan will ensure all of the ILO’s core labor conventions become clear commitments within any and all trade agreements and are given the full force of presidential leadership.
  • Expanding on these core labor rights, all trade agreements will further offer additional support for ensuring a living “floor” wage for workers, without forced overtime. Agreements will: disallow the waiving of labor laws; require full payment of all wages and benefits legally owed; guarantee that rights for workers are universal for both migrant workers and a country’s nationals; and establish strong, enforceable rules around international labor recruitment to prevent human trafficking. All trade agreements will take a clear stand to ban the importation of goods that use compulsory labor and child labor and set standards for worker safety from chemicals, unsafe workplaces, and sexual and physical harassment.
  • Adopting consumer right-to-know clauses so American consumers can know transparently the origin of products and the kind of labor used in their production. 
  • Eliminating procurement provisions that require the U.S. government to treat foreign bidders the same as U.S. bidders. The U.S. government must be allowed to use procurement as a tool to encourage local investment and promote climate responsibility. Requirements that lock in the procurement process undermine the ability of the U.S. government to set priorities and lead by example when it comes to labor and climate standards. 
  • Linking trade agreements with developing countries to development funding and technical assistance to ensure sufficient resources and capacity to undertake robust enforcement of agreements. Linking capacity building and development assistance to agreements that include improved standards will build on past experience in taking on child labor within international supply chains.
  • Empowering the ILO as a technical assistance provider on labor and environmental standards, and working through U.S. government agencies to provide direct technical assistance to protectorates for labor and environmental enforcement. Proactive support is essential, to enable strong and enforceable rules that achieve sustained compliance and the highest protection of fair labor practices and human rights.
  • Setting strong timelines for labor enforcement with stiff penalties that increase if companies delay or ignore labor violations. Agreements will include tools that empower enforcement, including the ability to impose additional tariffs and a private right of action to provide citizen relief to labor violations. 
  • Allocating resources for enforcement both by the federal government as well as access and power for co-enforcement by labor and NGOs so pro-worker organizations can advocate for workers when governments do not.

Protecting U.S. Workers from Trade-Associated Dislocation

When global trade affects workers within the U.S. domestic economy, we must forthrightly address those impacts without shifting the risks and costs associated with economic change directly onto the backs of individual workers or to the labor pool in key impacted regions or sectors of the economy. Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan has already called for a new “G.I. Bill” for impacted workers in energy-intensive industries to ensure a strong social safety net and access to resources for training and employment. To realize the benefits of global trade without individualizing the costs of transition, the Inslee Administration will focus on modernizing American pension security, access to health care, and ongoing skill training and certification for U.S. workers. This will involve the following key worker protections and reforms within U.S. domestic policy:

  • Expanding and streamlining income and wage loss supports for unemployed workers in transition, ensuring that trade-related impacts, or the effects of decarbonizing the economy, do not result in interrupted earnings for U.S. workers. Assuring universal access to these benefits will streamline the qualification for benefits to ensure access regardless of the specific cause of the dislocation, which minimizes the burden for individual workers in accessing income security.
  • Ensuring security of health insurance and pension benefits is also essential to reduce economic dislocation of trade impact or climate-impacted workers. Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan calls for protecting medical retirement benefits for workers impacted in energy transition, and similarly an Inslee Administration will focus on protecting benefits for workers as they gain skills and assume new roles in an increasingly mobile workforce.
  • Modernizing worker-training and skill-certification programs and other active labor market policies to assist workers in job searches or targeted retraining tied to strategic industries and specific employers. American economic competitors in Germany, Scandinavia, and numerous other countries have developed highly effective models for ensuring lifelong learning opportunities and rapid retraining tied to job placement, significantly reducing the impact of economic transition for individual families, impacted communities, and the economy as a whole. With thanks to strong leadership in states such as Rhode Island, Maine and Washington, similarly strong examples are emerging within U.S. communities to help sustain low unemployment.

Building Sustainability in Global Value Chains

While labor and environmental standards in trade agreements are essential to ensuring strong public value in a rapidly globalizing economy, much of the exchange of goods and services now takes place in elaborate global value chains with transactions between firms governed through the law of private contracts. These diverse and multinational networks of supply and production are increasingly difficult to govern solely through government-to-government trade agreements. 

Instead, improved tools must be developed to ensure that global corporations reach consistently and effectively through value chains to ensure that their suppliers also comply with environmental standards. Designing mechanisms for effective oversight and governance of global value chains is essential to achieving carbon-emission reductions, eliminating environmental disruption, and ensuring the enforcement of high-quality protections for workers and human rights.

Taken together, innovative public, private and nonprofit partnerships offer an important way forward to ensure higher standards of environmental, labor, and human rights performance in increasingly global markets and supply chains. These efforts to establish high-road social and environmental practices among global businesses should be actively supported across federal policy, and through the work of federal agencies, backed by the moral authority and convening power of the White House. This will include:

  • Reforming World Trade Organization (WTO) and other multilateral efforts to establish accountability for high-road supply-chain management. During  the past several years, the United States has sought to strengthen labor and environmental provisions in trade policy, and now it has an opportunity to show similar leadership in pushing the reform of multinational institutions such as the WTO to strengthen oversight of global value chains in this respect. 
  • Establishing strong frameworks to guide the behavior of multinational corporations and the U.S. government to proactively support improved value chain accountability and stewardship. For instance, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises provide a framework to steer the behavior of multinational corporations. The U.S. government should not only support adoption of these guidelines by taking the lead in strengthening its own National Contact Point as well as providing a platform to share best practices from effective NCPs around the world.
  • Driving new partnership agreements for improved transparency and accountability of U.S.-based multinational corporations. One key example of such an instrument is the Bangladesh Accord, which has demonstrated in the supply chain for garment workers that legally binding agreements directly negotiated between labor unions and international brands can unlock the opportunity to improve the health and safety of workers. Under the Inslee Administration, the U.S. government will support similar innovative instruments to build awareness and capacity of local suppliers to comply with national environmental standards.

Facilitating Trade in Clean Energy & Climate Solutions

The United States can establish rules for international commerce that incentivize beneficial cross-border exchange of clean energy technology, investment, and expertise to help defeat climate change while disincentivizing ongoing trade in climate-destabilizing fossil fuels and deforestation. Previous attempts have been made at negotiating rules for trade in environmental goods and services. With a renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement and recognition of the environmental, labor, and human rights shortcomings in international trade regimes to date, the United States can lead in the establishment of a new baseline of trade rules that support ambitious global climate action. This will include:

  • Increasing trade barriers on fossil fuels and products causing or resulting from deforestation practices, and advocating before the WTO to allow for such climate-friendly policies to take root around the globe without challenge, consistent with the Paris Agreement.
  • Working with trading partners to lower tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers to climate solutions and other environmental goods and services, including clean energy, water-treatment, and pollution-control technologies. At the same time, when necessary, the Inslee Administration will re-institute or leave in place tariffs and related trade tools to address unfair trade practices and support domestic industries.
  • Using trade agreements with developing countries to facilitate cross-border innovation and collaborative technology development in clean energy solutions.

Closing the Carbon Loophole with a Climate Duty

Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan calls for supporting domestic manufacturing industries and workers by “ensuring that America’s trading policies support, and do not undermine, the global transition toward clean energy, endeavor to close the carbon loophole and promoting continuous climate pollution reductions across nations.” Once America undertakes an ambitious Climate Mission agenda, as outlined the 100% Clean Energy for America Plan and Evergreen Economy Plan, this calls for enactment of a Climate Duty on imports — a border-adjustment fee to be assessed on imported goods (e.g. steel, glass, etc.) whose “embodied greenhouse gas content” (the lifecycle emissions in the production of that good) exceeds a certain threshold. Such a measure will not only incentivize low-carbon supply chains, protect energy-intensive trade-exposed (EITE) industries, and provide a balance on America’s trade relationships, but will also help to provide a supplemental enforcement provision for the Paris Agreement. To implement this, the Inslee Administration will begin by:

  • Directing the Department of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to design and institute a Climate Duty to be assessed upon the embodied climate pollution of imports from nations not committed to implementation of strong climate pollution reduction plans under the Paris Climate Agreement. This policy will be developed working with key industries, workers, and other domestic and international stakeholders, with a particular emphasis on EITE industries.

Driving Investment to Build a Sustainable Global Economy

Just as the United States helped establish a foundation of global stability in the 20th century through a Marshall Plan that restored peace and prosperity following the ravages of World War II, today we must again help catalyze global investment in response to a new existential challenge. Reversing climate impacts will require massive new capital flows to deploy clean energy technology, upgrade infrastructure, advance community resilience, improve agricultural and forestry sustainability, protect oceans and marine ecosystems, and put in place climate mitigation and adaptation solutions on a global basis. By helping to catalyze these global investments, the United States can simultaneously help promote economic justice for developing countries, which are already bearing the impacts of climate change.

The Paris Agreement also created a new energy and climate-resilient infrastructure market worth tens of trillions of dollars that will benefit only other countries unless the United States steps up. It will be essential to bring certainty and predictability to funding climate mitigation and adaptation projects through improved financing tools, backed by rigorous attention to capacity building, technology development, and transformation of outdated business practices. A plan for investment, capacity building, and deployment will include the following key measures:

Immediately Doubling America’s Commitment to the Green Climate Fund and Supporting Related Climate Investment Institutions

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established prior to the Paris Agreement to create the world’s largest green development institution and to help to meet the commitment in 2009 by the United States and other parties to mobilize $100 billion per year from all sources, public and private, for climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives in developing countries. The GCF is now oriented toward helping countries achieve their goals under the Paris Agreement. While the United States originally pledged $3 billion to the fund, the Trump Administration canceled the remaining $2 billion of that commitment. To date the GCF has committed $5 billion to more than 100 projects that will reduce climate pollution and build climate resilience throughout the globe — from climate-friendly cooking techniques in Africa, to bus rapid transit in Pakistan, and water security in the South Pacific. To encourage greater commitments from developing countries under the Paris Agreement, the United States should work with international partners to double the initial GCF capitalization. To lead in this effort and reverse the harm done by the Trump Administration, the Inslee Administration’s plan includes:

  • Immediately fulfilling the remaining initial $2 billion U.S. commitment to the GCF, and doubling that investment in the GCF’s new replenishment period, joining other nations such as Germany and Norway that are already increasing their commitments to the GCF.
  • Using these combined strengthened commitments to the GCF to work with international partners to steadily increase GCF funding during the coming decade, consistent with the provisions of the Paris Agreement to negotiate an increase in the overall $100 billion annual commitment beyond 2025. Further, the United States will work with partners in more advanced emerging economies to increase their contributions to the fund as well.
  • Committing American leadership to help ensure maximum efficacy, transparency, and success in GCF-sustainable investments around the globe. This includes expanding community-level input and consultation, especially from front-line communities, and ensuring that GCF funds are used to produce maximum leverage from other countries and private finance institutions.
  • Increasing capitalization for allied climate funds that serve the adaptation needs of the most vulnerable populations, including the Adaptation Fund (AF) and the Least Developed Countries Funds and the Special Climate Change Fund (LDCF and SCCF, both administered by the Global Environment Facility). The AF has committed investment in more than 80 projects around the world, including scaling-up climate-smart agriculture in East Guinea-Bissau and Lebanon, with approximately 6 million direct beneficiaries. By 2016 the LDCF had approved approximately $1 billion, leveraging nearly $4 billion in financing to support a large portfolio of adaptation projects. The SCCF has a portfolio of 77 projects in 79 countries, including monitoring of diseases and vectors affected by climate change. GCF funding for adaptation in Least Developed Countries should be enhanced and harmonized to advance the priorities of these funds and to enable GCF to learn from their experiences.

Catalyzing Investment in Global Green Development and American Clean Energy Exports

Greening the global economy will require public finance to leverage private capital, in the form of local domestic investment, foreign direct investment, and other channels. Importantly, it will also require a global commitment to cease investment in continued fossil fuel production and use (a subject discussed more thoroughly in section V). Governor Inslee’s plan calls for the United States to catalyze more global green investment, and it requires American leadership to ensure all existing global investment flows — in energy, infrastructure, and more — are made green.

The U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated the need for global investments in climate solutions and sustainability to be 2% of annual global GDP in the coming decades. And, since it made that estimate, the urgency of climate action and of the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree goal has been made ever clearer. In the United States, this annual investment goal will be nearly tripled under Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan. Achieving this target globally will also create a tremendous opportunity for American manufacturing and technology leadership. The International Finance Corporation estimates that the initial commitments to the Paris Agreement offered by just the 21 largest developing countries has created a $23 trillion investment opportunity between now and 2030. A country turning its back on participation in this market — a path the Trump Administration has chosen with its plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement — is like refusing to participate in the Internet boom of the 1990s. At the same time, private sector financial institutions need to be hardened against climate risk, to protect their own investments and to ensure that they do not introduce systemic failures throughout the global economy. As Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, and François Villeroy de Galhau, Governor of the Bank of France, recently put it, “climate change is a global problem, which requires global solutions, in which the whole financial sector has a crucial role to play,” however, “if some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist.”

Governor Inslee’s plan helps to realize this global economic opportunity, which will simultaneously benefit America’s economy and promote locally based solutions that enhance self determination and climate justice in the developing world. To achieve these goals will require a suite of policies to engage global financial markets to contribute positively toward green investment, including:

  • Prioritizing investment in climate solutions through federal international trade and finance agencies, such as the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), the International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC, formerly OPIC), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Trade and Development Agency (TDA), the Department of Commerce’s Foreign Commercial Service, and the Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. In the past these institutions have delivered a large public impact, while also providing a positive return on investment.  For example, U.S. government agencies mobilized billions in clean energy investment in India from 2009 to 2016, and Ex-Im and OPIC supported more than 25% of India’s first gigawatt of installed solar capacity. Projects should respond to community-based priorities and investments, should include strong efforts to create local business development and robust supply chain networks, as well as to build markets for American clean energy and sustainable product exports.
  • Working with the U.S. investment community to confront the global climate challenge by mobilizing the largest pool of resources: U.S.-based private equity. This includes directing the Department of the Treasury, in concert with Ex-Im and IDFC, to work with the U.S. investment community to fast-track measures to accelerate sound, sustainable, reliable, and profitable investments in developing countries based on their current pledges under Paris Agreement for the creation of new renewable energy and infrastructure systems, valued at tens of trillions of dollars, by 2030.  In turn, the U.S. government will commit to working with these countries to enhance their current targets by 2030, and create Deep Decarbonization Plans  and “Midcentury Strategies” for 2050, as called for by the Paris Agreement, which can grow this investment market in renewable energy several-fold.
  • Initiating a campaign among donor countries to require the World Bank and all multilateral development banks to only fund development projects that: enhance resilience; do not increase greenhouse gas emissions; and work with recipient country mitigation goals. It will be a primary goal of the Inslee Administration to accelerate and feed those projects with American-made clean energy exports, and clean-technology transfers, that displace fossil-fuel infrastructure.
  • Promoting Green Bond initiatives and catalyzing new green-banking institutions. Working through independent nonprofit intermediaries and bilateral national partnerships, the United States can leverage private capital investment, dedicated bond funds, and green banking institutions to support climate mitigation and adaptation. The World Bank now provides more than $50 billion in bond funding annually toward U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and raised $12.6 billion through 150 dedicated green bonds in 20 currencies by 2018. The GCF likewise has capitalized successful project financing vehicles in Rwanda dedicated toward clean energy, sustainability, and adaptation. The United States will work with developing countries and investment partners to capitalize independent nonprofit clean-power investment funds and local green banks to fund locally driven project priorities and to increase U.S. manufacturing and trade in environmental goods and services, broadband technology, clean water, and modernized infrastructure. This will also offer developing nations a credible alternative to rival Chinese investment through the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Promoting energy democracy must also be a central goal of any program to promote global development of clean energy infrastructure. The most recent IPCC report identified that achieving the 1.5C goal under the Paris Agreement will require investment of  between $1.6 trillion and $3.8 trillion in clean energy systems per year. With such substantial new capital flows into developing economies, it is essential that this investment opportunity promotes social equity and economic diversification through local ownership, cooperative project development structures such as community solar, municipal and public power, and other approaches that democratize decision-making, enhance asset formation at the community level, and ensure that the benefits of clean energy are broadly shared within local economies.
  • Advocating for the Federal Reserve (Fed) to join the Network on Greening the Financial System (NGFS), supported by 34 central banks and supervisors, in order to better manage climate related risks and promote a transition to a clean energy economy. The NGFS, which through its members covers roughly 50% of global GDP, works to “on a voluntary basis, exchange experiences, share best practices, contribute to the development of environment and climate risk management in the financial sector, and to mobilize mainstream finance to support the transition toward a sustainable economy.” Fed membership in the NGFS can inform the U.S. approach to managing climate and transition risk, including how central banks can leverage their own balance sheets to promote a clean energy transition while reengaging with the world on climate policy.

“Paving the High Road” to Make all Development Assistance Climate-Safe and Climate-Smart

In addition to creating the Paris Agreement in 2015, the collected parties to the United Nations also finalized the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a monumental undertaking to replace the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), which had expired that same year.  The SDGs include 17 goals and 169 targets, representing the full scope of critical development priorities. In the years of preparation and negotiation of the SDGs, one clear lesson came up again and again: Unchecked climate change will undermine and reverse most of the development gains made to date, which have lifted millions of people out of poverty.  In addition, today’s maps of extreme global poverty and extreme climate vulnerability overlay each other to a staggering degree. The United States must be committed to ensuring that no American dollar spent on international development assistance exacerbates the causes of climate change, but instead contributes to enhanced resilience to a climate-constrained world, and where possible, reduces climate pollution. America must also lead the way in getting both donor and recipient countries to conform to these new priorities. To realize this vision, Governor Inslee calls for:

  • Reviewing U.S. development assistance through USAID and the Department of State, especially in food, health care, water, energy and infrastructure to ensure that all improvements enhance climate resilience — especially in respecting lands, forests, and the rights of indigenous and communities on the front-line of climate risks — and reduce climate pollution.
  • Leading global efforts to create capacity in developing countries to achieve their priorities under the SDGs and their National Adaptation Plans under the UNFCCC in such a way as to ensure a transition to climate-smart development. Providing assistance for developing countries to create Deep Decarbonization Plans or “Midcentury Strategies,” as prescribed by the Paris Agreement, which fully integrate mitigation and adaptation plans consistent with this capacity.
  • Reinstituting bilateral partnerships with key strategic partners around the world to enhance resilience and enhance capacity to predict and prepare for climate-related extreme events so countries can manage these impacts internally.
  • Ensuring the full implementation of the Obama Administration’s Executive Order 13677 on Climate-Resilient International Development.
  • Convening an annual forum at the White House for philanthropic institutions and private sector donors to create mutually supportive commitments to fund only climate-smart development.

Restoring the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), Bilateral Climate and Energy Working Groups, and Expanding Climate Diplomacy

During the previous administration, the United States had dozens of bilateral programs for creating cooperative platforms and bilateral research initiatives for policy innovation and technical cooperation. For example, the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group had more than 20 cooperative initiatives, and the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Combating Climate Change had 15 programs, from cooperation in climate resilience to improving the investment environment for clean energy. All of these groups were supported through the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) — an umbrella fund shared between the State Department and USAID, which incubated and funded the programs under these bilateral groups, focusing their priorities and ensuring that congressionally mandated funds for climate-related assistance abroad are well-spent. To revive the progress that has been abandoned by the Trump Administration, Governor Inslee’s plan includes:

  • Restoring the GCCI and quadrupling its former budget.
  • Establishing a cross-cutting U.S. government “Ambition Unit” to lead, with support from country teams, negotiations on major country national targets. This group will include officials from the White House, State Department, EPA, DOE, and national labs.
  • Re-instituting bilateral and multilateral programs for enhanced clean energy development and deployment with key strategic partners, such as the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) program with India, and the Power Africa Initiative dealing with energy access. And expanding the map of bilateral climate working groups to other advanced emerging economies such as Indonesia, South Africa, Mexico, and South Korea to create more opportunities to enhance the resilience profile of these countries and increase their capacity to ramp up their commitments to reduce emissions under the Paris Agreement.
  • Restoring high-level partnerships, such as the continental cooperation between the United States, Canada, and Mexico enshrined in the 2016 North American Leaders’ Statement, and subsequently continued through the U.S. Climate Alliance-led North American Climate Leaders’ Statement and Dialogue.
  • Instituting country-based climate diplomacy teams, based on the model successfully piloted by the United Kingdom, including embassy-embedded technical experts and new climate-focused political and economic officers to engage in both capitals and through consulates.
  • Establishing an international Deep Decarbonization Planning facility to assist countries in developing plans to transform their economies to achieve carbon neutrality.
  • Creating a Global Climate Service Corps, as put forward by Governor Inslee in his proposal for a Climate Conservation Corps.The Global Climate Service Corps will give American youth the opportunity to conduct a tour of service overseas, working side by side with local partners, as they build expertise in climate mitigation and resilience, clean water, and sustainable economic development. This program will prioritize opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged young people, as well as those with advanced degrees who can put their skills to work building a more sustainable world. 

Promoting Global Clean Energy Innovation through the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) is a global partnership of more than 20 countries working to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future. Through more than two dozen initiatives and campaigns, as well as annual ministerial meetings, CEM countries are working together on clean power, energy efficiency and many other topics. Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative to promote clean energy innovation inspired by leaders including Bill Gates. Under MI, more than 20 countries agreed in 2015 to double their clean energy research and development budgets by 2020.  Members of Mission Innovation (MI) have created eight Innovation Challenges to accelerate research, development and demonstration (RD&D) in areas that could provide significant benefits for reducing climate pollution, increasing energy security, and creating new opportunities for sustainable growth. At present, U.S. participation in the CEM and MI is largely limited to carbon, capture, and sequestration, and nuclear technologies. In his Evergreen Economy Plan, Governor Inslee calls for increasing to $35 billion annually U.S. federal investment in clean energy and climate solutions. An Inslee Administration will immediately re-engage with both the CEM and MI, and in other multilateral and bilateral clean energy partnerships, by:

  • Jumping back into the array of CEM programs — which are now suspended and “under review” under President Trump’s Department of Energy, including smart grids, lighting and energy access, electric vehicles, advanced cooling, corporate sourcing of renewable energy, and the 21st Century Power Partnerships — to make the United States once again a leader on global efficiency and renewables deployment.
  • Revisiting the success rate among MI parties for doubling R&D funding for non-polluting energy research by 2020, and working with current MI members to commit to another doubling of their R&D budgets, at the least, by 2030. Re-engaging on the full range of the MI’s Innovation Challenges, including smart grids and advanced and affordable heating and cooling.
  • Establishing a track of CEM work focused on decarbonization strategies for industrial sectors, related to Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan.
  • Convening the first leader-level meeting of the CEM, to provide its mission with the full force and attention it deserves, and offering to host a combined CEM and MI meeting in America in the first year of the Inslee Administration.

Taking on Fossil Fuels and Creating Climate Accountability

One of the most significant impediments to ambitious global climate action has been consistent opposition from fossil fuel industries and leaders of nations that prop them up. In global geopolitics, fossil fuel resources have often served as a “sword or a shield,” in the words of the European Parliament, for undemocratic or authoritarian nations to exert foreign policy influence out of proportion with their underdeveloped national economies. As the United States leads a domestic and international transition to a clean energy future, downward pressures on oil markets will grow, and fossil fuel industries and countries whose economies principally rely on oil, gas and coal exports will come under increasing pressure to diversify or be left behind. They have resisted this pressure powerfully to date in order to protect profit margins. Absent thoughtful national leadership and international collaboration, the citizens of fossil fuel-dependent regions will become increasingly vulnerable to economic shocks and disruptions. This plan recognizes the impediment and outsized influence that fossil fuel industries represent to global climate progress, and seeks strategies to build global alliances to protect workers and communities from fossil industry transitions that are already well under way.

There are other critical drivers standing in the way of effective global climate action that also demand major concerted, strategic action from the U.S. government. When the Trump Administration abandoned international cooperation on climate change and made the United States into the lone nation to reject basic climate science and refuse to reduce its own emissions at the national level, it created a global leadership vacuum in confronting the climate crisis. Several countries have tried to step in to take up the mantle of global leadership. The most prominent has been China, which had previously worked side-by-side with America during the crafting of the Paris Agreement to encourage ambition in the initial round of national commitments, and helped to publicly bridge the divide between developed and developing countries on respective requirements for climate action. But even while China is making strides in reducing its own climate pollution under the Paris Agreement, it is simultaneously supporting the construction of fossil energy and infrastructure in other countries, and as a consequence risking a lock in of climate pollution around the world, as part of its “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), a massive interconnected system of land and sea trade routes, including energy and infrastructure development. The BRI is a massive global development project, worth a projected $6 trillion, 46 times as large as the U.S. Marshall Plan following World War II.

Moreover, not only is the Trump Administration abandoning America’s responsibility to take action on climate change, it is also building support on the margins of global climate and environment summits for chipping away at the underpinnings of global action — alongside nations like Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Brazil. The Trump Administration has even indicated an interest in creating an alternative MEF focused on promoting fossil energy. Trump’s policy has created space for China to engage in its dual strategy of domestic clean energy development and international fossil fuel promotion, by utterly failing to confront China or to meet the scale of its investment in development and geopolitical partnership. Under Governor Inslee’s plan, the United States would end this abdication of global leadership and firmly re-establish accountability on climate change as a hallmark of American diplomacy. America will hold all major parties’ feet to the fire to be consistent in their approach to climate action, expose actions by those countries intent on slowing or even reversing international progress, and lead the world in the transition to a clean energy future. This includes:

Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Financing across the Globe

In 2009, the G20 countries agreed at their Pittsburgh summit to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies “over the medium term.” However, it has never agreed to a date for the medium term, and other than conducting some valuable peer review processes among a few G20 countries, it has not succeeded in achieving this goal.  Accounting methodologies for estimating global fossil fuel subsidies vary, but have been estimated at as much as $5.3 trillion annually. Under a report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in May 2019, China was identified as being the largest subsidizer of fossil fuels, followed by the United States, Russia, the EU and India. The IMF estimated that eliminating these subsidies would have reduced global fossil fuel pollution by 21%, while raising revenue to support public investments by 4%. Under the Inslee Administration, America will lead a domestic and global initiative to end all fossil fuel subsidies by:

  • Taking immediate action to repeal fossil subsidies and end other giveaways, including working with Congress to repeal more than $20 billion in annual direct domestic fossil fuel subsidies — most of them oil industry tax breaks. Taking executive action to end giveaways of fossil fuel leases on public lands; enforcing clean air laws; and providing a full accounting of federal and state fossil fuel giveaways, for further policy action. And using diplomatic levers to ensure that members of the G20 deliver on their standing commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Issuing guidance from the Department of Treasury establishing a policy for the United States to use its voice and vote to object to oil, gas, and coal projects at multilateral development banks (including upstream, midstream, and downstream). Ending all support from Ex-Im and IDFC for fossil fuel projects.
  • Using America’s presence in the OECD Working Party on Export Credits and Credit Guarantees to advocate strongly for an end to export credits for all oil, gas, and coal activity, where a precedent already exists under the OECD's Coal-Fired Electricity Generation Sector Understanding. Specifically, working to close existing loopholes and end finance for all coal plants in all countries regardless of technology from all sources of finance, and expanding restrictions to all associated infrastructure including mining, rail and transportation. In addition, work to expand these restrictions to new oil and gas extraction and infrastructure.
  • Implementing carbon accounting on all overseas U.S. projects — using, for example, carbon cost levels recommended by the World Bank or the social cost of carbon as calculated by the EPA. Requiring that the costs of climate pollution be an operational element of investment decisions by the bank.

Re-engaging with China to Support Consistent and Meaningful Global Climate Action

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that China would fill America’s global climate leadership gap by, “taking a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change.” And, that “China has become an important participant, contributor, and torchbearer in the global endeavor for ecological civilization.” But while China is moving to reduce its own climate pollution, it is simultaneously supporting the construction of fossil energy infrastructure under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Analysis of financing in BRI countries shows that the majority ($102 billion out of around $150 billion from 2014-2017) went to the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors. In the power sector, the vast majority of expenditures to date, particularly through the better-financed state-owned enterprises, have gone to fossil fuel generation, including support for 240 new and planned coal plants in BRI countries. While President Xi highlighted the priority of “greening” BRI at the recent BRI Forum in Beijing, China has been slow to implement such measures. To counter this, Governor Inslee’s plan includes:

  • Challenging China to dramatically shift the priority to renewable energy and other green projects under BRI.  The United States will begin this process by leading by example, implementing the plank of Governor Inslee’s 100% Clean Energy for America Plan that shutters all U.S. coal-fired electricity plants by 2030, and invests in a just transition for communities formerly reliant on fossil fuel extraction and processing to clean energy generation.  The United States will work to mobilize private capital for clean energy projects around the world.
  • Working with China to negotiate an agreement on ending subsidies for fossil energy in other countries — a measure that started in the Obama Administration. 
  • Creating a task force in the Department of the Treasury to initiate dialogue with Chinese banks and financial institutions involved in BRI investments on climate-safe investment strategies and mechanics, utilizing, for example, the recommendations made by the Network for Greening the Financial System.
  • Helping build capacity in BRI countries to make non-fossil energy projects central to economic development.  BRI countries already include substantial goals to increase their renewable energy in line with their current targets under the Paris Agreement. For example, demand for renewable energy represented in the NDCs of 31 BRI countries from South Asia, to the Middle East, to Africa amounts to a $469 billion investment opportunity. The United States should lead the way in providing this support and reaping the benefits.
  • Reviving and expanding the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Centers. The United States and China could lead the way in overcoming some of the biggest hurdles in advanced energy solutions and storage to make 24-hour-a-day renewable systems work.
  • Pursuing U.S.-China cooperation in establishing collaborative agreements for sustainably-produced commodities with Brazil, Indonesia and other tropical nations (such as Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru) that are major suppliers of beef, soy, palm oil, cocoa, coffee, and other commodities. The production of these commodities is a major driver of tropical deforestation and a collaborative approach is needed to help slow the loss and speed the recovery of their forests, as these countries grow their economies, achieve food security, and foster greater social inclusion, and recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights, and providing opportunities to small-scale farmers.

Confronting “Petro-States” and Deforestation

Every nation that is party to international climate conventions has the right to pursue its own domestic sovereignty and foreign policy priorities, but every nation will also experience the consequences of global climate change. Defeating this challenge requires closely coordinated international action, and it is in the interest of every nation to foster climate cooperation even within the context of a competitive international system.

Today, the U.S. government is far too closely aligned with international actors who are not only slowing the pace of action on confronting climate change, but are also steadily undermining the framework for international collaboration on which the fight against climate change depends. The United States must disentangle its foreign policy goals from those of the “Axis of Oil” countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran in their climate policy, and in their anti-democratic practices. America must also take an aggressive stand in favor of sustainable forestry practices around the globe. In doing so, the United States can return to its role as the world’s greatest advocate for international cooperation, and hold allies and adversaries alike to a high standard of action. To accomplish this, Governor Inslee’s plan includes:    

  • Utilizing anti-corruption authority in U.S. law to impose consequences for undermining international cooperation, including on climate and much more. Climate organizing is increasingly a target of right-wing nationalist movements throughout the world, as seen by the recent targeting of a Swedish climate change activist by Germany’s AfD party, and nations deeply invested in exploiting fossil fuel reserves are openly flouting consensus on climate change or targeting climate activists domestically. The United States will not only cease to cooperate with these countries to impede efforts to confront global climate change, as the Trump Administration has done, but will utilize the Global Magnitsky Act to hold to account individuals and entities responsible for human rights violations and corrupt activities that contribute to targeting civil society advocates, including climate activists.
  • Holding governments and corporate actors accountable for violating international best practice in forest governance and/or reneging on commitments to protect globally important forest resources vital to biodiversity, combating climate change, and protecting indigenous peoples and local communities. And ensuring the United States is a leader in transparency and traceability standards for forest products. This includes investing in traceability technologies and NGO platforms that make these data available. 
  • Progressing toward a safe climate will be considered a relevant U.S. national interest for the purposes of Presidential Proclamation 7750, allowing public officials involved in corrupt activities to be denied entry to the United States.
  • Establishing a national strategy to encourage nations with economies dependent upon fossil fuel exports to diversify their economies and build strong civil society. The Inslee Administration will institute a multilateral dialogue among major fossil fuel producers to plan for a just transition, economic diversification, stranded assets, and shift away from fossil economies, and where necessary, utilize preferential treatment for countries engaging in strong climate action to encourage increased compliance with internal targets for economic diversification, human rights improvements, and improved opportunities for women and minorities.


Click here to download the full plan.