Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to reporters Nov. 8 via video conference from the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has directed state agencies to electrify their vehicle fleets by 2040, announcing the executive order at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

State vehicles account for about 0.09% of Washington's greenhouse gases, according to inventories by the Department of Ecology. Agencies will phase in electrification. At least 40% of the state's cars and light trucks must be electric by 2025, according to the order.

Speaking Monday to reporters via video conference, Inslee said the measure was an example of steps states and provinces can take independently to act on the climate.

"Mostly the message from Glasgow is Washington state is leading the charge, and we're not alone," he said. "Washington state wants to be ahead of Washington, D.C."

Inslee has been at the 26th annual UN climate conference since Saturday. He is scheduled to appear Tuesday with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan.

He will tour Scotland on Wednesday with his wife, Trudi, and then meet Thursday with United Kingdom climate leaders to conclude the conference, according to his office.

Washington and 67 other states, provinces and cities also announced non-binding pledges to cut greenhouse gases, though they did not agree on uniform measures.

Only California, two Mexican states, a Brazilian state and an Indonesian province committed to reducing livestock emissions 30% by 2030.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the target could be reached by better livestock management, though warned against sacrificing the goal of zero hunger by 2030.

Inslee mostly agreed to goals or policy statements already passed by the Legislature, including a mandate for electricity to be carbon free by 2045.

Washington pledged to "integrate racial and gender diversity in developing environmental solutions to the climate crisis."

And it committed to "promote sustainable communities" with a "range of affordable housing and transportation options" that "reduce vehicle miles traveled."

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that if emissions are cut to zero by 2050, global warming will be held to 1.4 degrees Celsius above 19th century temperatures.

If emissions hold steady, neither rising nor falling by much, temperatures will be 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages, the IPCC estimates.

Inslee spoke apocalyptically in a statement issued by the Under2 Coalition, a group of state and local governments committed to keeping warming under 2 degrees.

"The actions we take in the next five years will determine the fate of our species," he said.

Oregon is not a party to the non-binding pledges made by states and provinces. Gov. Kate Brown, however, spoke at a conference hosted by the coalition Sunday.

Brown said she was particularly proud of helping minorities, the poor and rural residents cope with climate change. She highlighted rebates for electric vehicle buyers.

State-owned vehicles accounted for 91,669 metric tons of carbon emissions in Washington in 2018 and 87,876 metric tons in 2019, according to Ecology. Total emissions were 99.6 million metric tons in 2018, the most recent year for which Ecology has completed an inventory.

Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter

Recommended for you