Young voters in Washington are working to pass the country’s first carbon fee

Photo courtesy of Our Climate

Young voters in Washington are working to pass the country’s first carbon fee

We know that climate change is happening rapidly, that sea levels are rising, and that natural disasters are increasing in occurrence and severity, all while our federal government is doing everything in its power to repeal environmental protections and regulations. 

In Washington State, we are lucky enough to be surrounded by natural beauty with an electorate that is passionate about protecting it. Because of this, we often lead on environmental issues, paving the way for other states to follow suit. 

We are also a state that has seen the impacts of climate change first-hand: we’ve experienced worsening drought, the wildfire season is longer and more severe, and rising sea level has forced our coastal tribal nations to relocate further inland. 

But our state is taking action. We know that climate change is an issue that transcends party lines and impacts us all. That is why the most diverse coalition in Washington State’s history has come together to support Initiative 1631, which would charge our top corporate polluters for every ton of carbon they emit. This historic policy would take the money raised and invest it in clean energy, healthy forests, and communities around the state. 

Over 400 community groups have come together to support Initiative 1631 including communities of color, labor unions, faith groups, environmental activists, students, businesses, and health professionals. We all worked together to gather over 360,000 signatures to get Initiative 1631 on November’s ballot. 

Our Climate mobilizes young people across the country to be powerful advocates for equitable and science-based climate policy. Our Climate has supported Initiative 1631 from the beginning because we know that climate change will threaten our health, safety, and livelihoods. We are the generation most affected by climate change and we must act now to prevent the worst effects of a warming planet. 

All around Washington State, young people are rising up to pass this momentous policy. We are young people from working class families. We are recent immigrants. We are first generation Americans. We are the children of loggers and fisherman. We are community college students. We call rural communities home. We love to spend time outside with the people we love. Every part of who we are is at stake if we don’t take action on climate today. Our Climate supports Yes on 1631 because it speaks our mission to its core. We are 1 of 400 organizations working to pass Initiative 1631-- but we need everyone to help us get this powerful policy over the finish line. 

Despite the wide range of support, we are still in danger of losing this election as the oil industry has dedicated over $22 million to defeat the initiative. They will do what it takes to protect their bottom line: profit. The fossil fuel industry is spending $22 million because they know if they don’t spend money spreading misinformation, the people will vote in favor of a clean future. The move toward a green economy is inevitable; we don’t have time to let the oil industry stall us from making it a reality.

We don’t have the money they do, but we have people power. We have the passion of Washingtonians who want clean air for our health and for the health of future generations. 

The rest of the country is watching, and if Washington is able to pass a price on pollution, other states will follow and we will catalyze a movement for clean energy and polluter accountability. For those of us who have the most to lose, we have no other option: we must move forward on the state level and take action on climate change NOW. Our futures depend on it.