We have heard that many times, but especially when we think about how we keep democracy alive and healthy. And one way that we express ourselves in our democracy is through votes for what is known as a “resolution.”
On March 26, the Bainbridge Island City Council did just that: voted for an important resolution with all seven council members in support. And this resolution had 11 members of the community stand and speak in gratitude and support, ranging in age from a high schooler to a grandparent.
So, what is this resolution and why do we speak of it again? Resolution 2019-14 was a strong statement of support for the Green New Deal and HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This means that our city council formally stated its encouragement for strong action by the federal government to prevent the worst of climate chaos.
We realize that the Green New Deal is itself a resolution and not a set of laws. That means it is call to action. So, the Bainbridge Island City Council joined its voice to that call.
HR 763, is however, a very specific, solutions-based piece of climate legislation. It would put a rising price on carbon emissions, with the dividend going directly back to families to help soften the impact of the increased cost of fossil fuels, while stimulating the development of a clean energy economy.
There is a growing sense of urgency now for large, effective actions by our government at all levels, to help us prevent the suffering that greenhouse gas emissions are causing. In Washington state, we have experienced unhealthy air from extensive regional forest fires and have seen the reports of devastation to communities burned by wildfires. We are surrounded by the Salish Sea that feels the damage from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causing increased acidification. And rising sea levels make some parts of the world uninhabitable. The news reports mass migrations that happen when drought causes places to become unlivable. We hear the military call climate change a “threat multiplier.” We read about parts of our world that can no longer support life the way it has for millennia, causing species to go extinct at far greater rates than usual.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report this year calling for the “upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching, multilevel and cross-sectoral climate mitigation … both incremental and transformational adaptation.” In other words, in terms of climate chaos prevention, we must work in big ways to act broadly and quickly to mitigate and adapt as best we can.
Bainbridge Island City Council Resolution 2019-14 adds urgency to that call for our congressional delegation to act, to support the transformational, broad vision of the Green New Deal and the specific effectiveness of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. We can use that resolution to encourage other municipalities to do the same.
We see momentum building. We have a vision for unrelenting commitment from government at all levels, to prioritize climate legislation. We do this because we have optimism that our elected leaders, along with citizens who are active, understand that words matter. Words become law. And strong laws can help us save the planet from the worst of climate chaos.
Citizens and elected leaders, working together, create powerful laws when the words they use are strong and clear. We are grateful for that togetherness.
Matt Tirman is a Bainbridge Island City Councilman; Mike Kelly is CEO of Tech DNA; Bobbie Morgan is Co-leader Bainbridge Chapter Citizens’ Climate Lobby