OLYMPIA — Washington leaders are looking abroad for ideas on how to transition to clean energy and continue to fight climate change.
Gov. Jay Inslee and other representatives from Washington have spent the past week on a trade mission to Finland, Sweden and Norway focusing on energy, technology, sustainability and climate change. Representatives from the Department of Commerce, the Port of Seattle, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and employers in the state, such as Microsoft, joined the governor.
In a call with reporters, Inslee said anyone who is anxious about the threat of climate change would be pleased with the meetings they were having.
"Anytime we consolidate research, anytime we scale up the size of these industries, anytime we jointly explore innovative new technologies, they're going to all happen faster," Inslee said. "They recognize that, as do we."
In Finland, Inslee learned about the country's approach to nuclear waste disposal and developing 5G and 6G technologies. In Sweden, he talked with leaders about the country's transition to a green economy. In Norway, he met with businesses, such as Corvus Energy, a supplier for zero-emission batteries and applications, to discuss partnerships in Washington. He also learned about electric ferries being deployed in Norway's transportation system.
Inslee said it was a productive trip that is creating results in Washington through strengthened partnerships with companies. Those companies, such as a number of battery companies, could soon begin operations and hiring in Washington, he said.
Inslee said these businesses' main concern with opening in the next year is the speed of permitting in Washington. Inslee said he is interested in accelerating the permitting process to allow that, such as by providing more resources to the Department of Ecology to make permitting decisions faster.
"These are relatively short-term investments that are very possible," he said.
When talking with companies in these countries, Inslee said the transition to clean energy is happening "extremely fast," and it's not just one industry. He pointed to the use of offshore winds, new 5G technology and electric ferries.
Members of the state Department of Commerce also visited Neste, a leading supplier of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel based in Finland. Neste partners with Alaska Airlines, and Washington will continue to work with them to learn more about how to bring a sustainable aviation market to the state, Chris Green, from the Department of Commerce, told reporters.
"That market is developing, but it's improved and made great strides in the last 10 or 20 years," Green said.
All of the new ideas could mean "tremendous job creation" in Washington as well as reducing the state's carbon footprint, Inslee said.
The trip was paid for by a combination of outside sponsorship, funds provided by the Legislature and delegate fees paid to the Department of Commerce, according to the governor's office.