Three Principles for the Washington Climate Action Team

By JIM DIPESO, REP’s policy director

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: Jim delivered this speech to the Washington State Climate Action Team in Seattle, on August 7, 2007.


Good afternoon. I am Jim DiPeso, policy director of Republicans for Environmental Protection. Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the work of the Washington Climate Action Team.

If I may borrow a phrase from Theodore Roosevelt, climate change is a great moral issue. It is also a complicated policy problem and an opportunity to reap significant benefits in security, economic opportunity, public health, natural resource conservation, and quality of life, if we’re judicious and smart about the policies that we adopt.


We suggest three principles to govern your deliberations over the next few months.


#1 .Provide Certainty

Make the rules clear. Make the incentives easy to take advantage of. Anticipate spin-off consequences. Make allowances for the cussed unpredictability of human behavior. Ensure that the policies are backed up by high-quality data on emissions, costs, and benefits. In God we trust. All others bring data.


#2. Leave No Good Idea Behind

None of us in this room is clairvoyant. We don’t know which precise combination of technologies, business models, and behavior changes will do the trick. Moreover, the emissions reductions that we must make are of such a scale that we do not have the luxury of picking winners and losers. Create a framework that will attract capital towards a range of technologies and business models that deliver low emissions, greater efficiency, and enhanced conservation of forests and farmland.


#3. Make It Real for People

Over the last year or so, the public has become convinced that the climate problem is real, but a significant percentage is not convinced that there is much that they can do about it. Whatever policies you come up with, wrap them in stewardship values that educate and inspire. Not many people on the street outside this building will know much about the ins and outs of energy or forestry policy. They do know, however, that building a cleaner and safer world is important. Make that connection between your policies and the citizens whom you serve.

Thank you very much.