Initiative 1631: One Big Leap on Climate Change

By Mike Stevens, Washington state director

Lauren Miheli delivers signatures for I-1631 to the Secretary of State’s Office in Olympia on July 2. © Nikolaj Lasbo / TNC

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. With Initiative 1631, we have taken hundreds or even thousands of steps toward the goal of cleaner, healthier future.

Tackling climate change is a long term and urgent challenge. Even though we lost this round, we are motivated by the opportunity to create a prosperous future for all people and a sustainable future for all life on Earth. We will continue to work with others to come together to create a world in which people and nature thrive.

At The Nature Conservancy, we recognize that climate change is impacting our lands, waters, health and communities in many negative ways. Several years ago, we began helping to form, lead and be part of a diverse coalition committed to action on climate. That grass-roots beginning grew into the largest and most diverse coalition in state history committed to passing a citizen’s initiative that both cuts carbon pollution and invests in repairing and restoring natural systems and communities across the state.

This incredible coalition, which includes tribes, communities of color, fellow environmental groups, business and government leaders, communities of faith and many, many others is not going away. We share important common goals and values. We’ve built trust and affinity, and we are committed to continuing to take action on climate change in ways that are meaningful and equitable.

The work on I-1631 brought many new voices and people to the table on the issue of climate change. It garnered more than 400 endorsements and brought together corporations like Patagonia and REI, individuals like Bill Gates and Macklemore and groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists and The American Lung Association. (See the complete and amazing list here.) These diverse stakeholders came together with a strong commitment to protect our future by taking urgent action on carbon pollution. Many spoke out for the first time — but not the last.

Thanks to the dialog around 1631, climate change is no longer an abstract or vague concept. It’s now part of everyday conversation for millions of Washingtonians. Even the oil companies, which mounted a record-breaking $31 million campaign opposing 1631 had to finally admit that climate change is a serious issue in need of serious solutions. This marks a significant step forward as we work to tackle one of the defining issues of our time.

A solar array. © Dave Lauridsen

Yes on 1631 by the numbers: 

  • 600 – number of organizations endorsed

  • $15,182,000 - raised

  • 6,000 – individual volunteers

  • 6,000 – ballots printed at college campuses for students

  • 65,000 - doors knocked last week

  • 135,000 – doors knocked total

  • 262,000 – calls made

  • 22 - pop up offices around the state

Finally, the last many months have demonstrated the incredible impact of people power. Facing off against millions of dollars in opposition, hundreds of you turned out to ring doorbells, make phone calls, post yard signs and talk with friends and neighbors. This kind of commitment is exactly what we will need as we move forward on climate action to protect our future. Thanks to all of you who joined us in this effort.

Together, we are committed to creating a cleaner, healthier future for generations to come. Together, we will find solutions to the biggest environmental challenges in our state and in our world, shaping a low-carbon future. Together, we move forward with courage and a vision for a better world.

Learn More About 1631