As part of his $626.5 million legislative and budget package to address climate change, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee wants to create a new Office of Climate Commitment Accountability.
The purpose of the office is “to align and strengthen existing climate laws, rules, and policies; prioritize funding to reduce emissions and address climate risks; and comprehensively engage overburdened communities” and would be paid for by $1.9 million from the state’s general fund, according to a 2022 policy brief put out by the governor’s office.
The office will ensure the mission of combatting climate change is embedded in the budgets and mission statements of all state agencies, Inslee explained at a Monday morning press conference held at the Capitol Childcare Center in Olympia, a building Inslee touted for its focus on conserving resources, ensuring air and water quality, and reducing waste.
“Certainly the Department of Transportation comes to mind first,” Inslee said of agencies associated with climate change.
He went on to say, “So, all of these agencies can have a climate function.”
The policy brief states, “The office would work with agencies to develop and implement a biennial strategic climate work plan with performance milestones and accountability measures, and identify how state law can be improved to support the state’s climate commitment.”
Todd Myers, director of the Center for the Environment for the Washington Policy Center, is skeptical.
“The governor created Results Washington to set and enforce targets for state CO2 reductions (among other things),” he said in an email. “When those targets were missed, however, they simply scrubbed the web page of those missed targets and still have not replaced them with anything.”
In 2013, Inslee launched the Results Washington initiative as an interactive web-based tool for Washingtonians meant to make state government more efficient, effective, and transparent.
“The governor’s history of creating offices like this is that it is for show rather than to guarantee results,” Myers said.