Have to make fighting climate change 'a character issue': Inslee on 2020 platform

Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., joins "This Week" to discuss his presidential campaign's focus on climate change.
5:48 | 03/03/19

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Transcript for Have to make fighting climate change 'a character issue': Inslee on 2020 platform
Our country's next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time, defeating climate change. This crisis isn't just a chart or graph anymore. The impacts are being felt everywhere. I'm Jay inslee and I'm running for president because I'm the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation's number one priority. We can do this. Governor inslee joining the presidential race on Friday. He's here with us live this morning. Thank you for coming back to "This week." Good morning. You caught the president's attention right away. He was railing against the green new deal, and taking action against climate change yesterday. I want to show a bit of it right here. I wanted to show a bit of it, but the president was saying, No planes, no energy. When the wind stops blowing, that's the end of your electric. Let's hurry up. Darling. Darling, is the wind blowing today? I would like to watch television, darling. He's obviously mocking the idea of taking on climate change and the green new deal. Well, look. He's so pessimistic. We're the optimists in this debate and we know we can invent and create and build clean energy economy. We know we can do that because we're doing it in my state where we built the wind turbine industry from $0 to $6 billion in 12 years. My legislature passed by 100% clean bill. We're making progress like crazy in my state, but what we need is a president to do what presidents do, which is to blow the bugle and really call the country to a higher mission. 'T you have to level with people? There is an optimistic view and there is no question that taking on the issue of climate change and all the science has reached a consensus on this, and it's critical, but who is going to bear the burden? Who kind of sacrifices will you require from Americans? You know, if you net this out, what's going to require sacrifices is the course of inaction. You have to understand there is enormous cost of doing nothing here. It means we're going to have more paradise, Californias where I visited -- The fires. There was an hour of darkness and it looked like an apocalypse set from a movie theater. People will bear this burden, particularly front line communities and marginalized communities and they will be flooded. In my state, our kids could not go outside because they had the worst air quality in the world. There is a huge cost to our economy, our health and national security if we do not act. There is an enormous economic advantage for embracing clean energy. We're doing it today by spinning carbon fiber for electric cars in my state or making biofuels. We're getting jobs. Clean energy jobs in the clean energy sector today, before we take action, are growing twice as fast as the rest of the United States economy. This -- if you are bullish and you want to have a growth-oriented economy, this is the message. I have believed this a long time. I co-authored a book about this over ten years ago. So we have to be optimistic about this. You mentioned your experience in Washington state, but you failed to pass a carbon tax, and you had a ballot initiative that you campaigned hard for. It went down in November. If you couldn't succeed in your own state, how can you succeed with the whole country? We are succeeding in our state. There are multiple tools in our toolbox and this is good news, right? We don't have to depend on just one tool. So we're exercising multiple tools that are working. Our renewable portfolio standard as I said, developed a $6 billion wind industry in 12 years. We're growing jobs in all kinds of sectors because of my clean energy development fund, a $100 million fund that we have. We are putting people to work in software, dealing with the integration of batteries, new battery technology. In fact, my neighbor's kid just went to work making batteries to integrate in renewable energy. So we are working. Two days, in fact, it was kind of lucky the day I announced for president. My senate passed a bill to provide 100% clean electricity, and that ought to be a goal we give all Americans as the same day they banned that. How do you convince voters? I want to show our latest poll ranked the issues at the top of voters' minds. We had improving health care, reducing economic inequality, reducing discrimination, and global warning, fourth on the half of those concerned about health care. How do you convince voters this should be the overriding issue? Can you win if you don't? Several things. Number one, this is no longer a chart or graph. As people experiencing it with their own lives. It's people in Seattle, Washington, waking up with ash on the hoods of their cars because their forests are burning down. It's people of Houston being flooded and Miami beach where they had to raise their streets a foot and a half and you look down at the shops in Miami beach. It's personal experience number one, and it's changing dramatically. A poll released showed that among Democrat primary voters, in the first four states, defeating climate change is actually number one priority, now tied with health care. Now the other thing you make this -- the way this works is you talk about this from a character issue rather than just science. I really believe that the way to win this is to talk about the basic character of who we are. We think big. We go to the moon. We invent. We create, we build. We lead the world. We don't follow it, and we don't fear the world, you know, we lead it and I think we have got to argue this from a character standpoint, and an optimistic standpoint because that's what wins in America, and I truly believe that. Thanks for coming in today. You bet.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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