Jay Fisette served on the Arlington County Board from 1998-2017. He was Chair or Vice Chair for 10 of those years and played a major role in transforming Arlington into the nationally recognized sustainable community it is today. He was named “Public Official of the Year” by the Virginia Transit Association and recently led efforts in developing the region’s long range transportation plan. As President of the Virginia Municipal League, he created the Go Green Virginia program that engaged localities across Virginia in activities to reduce their carbon emissions. Mr. Fisette led the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), COG’s Climate, Energy and Environment Committee, and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. He also ran a regional human service agency, was staff consultant to a U.S. Senate committee, and was an auditor with the Government Accountability Office. He has a M.A. in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.A. from Bucknell University. He is an elected Fellow at NAPA
What motivated you to work on the sustainable use of natural resources and addressing Climate Change?
I believe the button, “Everything is connected.” Nothing more so than the ecosystem and planet that sustains us. My work in urban planning and livable cities quickly focused me on smart growth….and then sustainability more broadly…and then climate action. This is long term work which should inform all our short term actions.
How would you describe the government's role in the sustainable use of natural resources and addressing climate change?
Government is essential to addressing climate change. Local and state governments must develop a community-wide plan to reduce their GHG emissions. They can lead by example with practical policies that reduce their own carbon footprint, such as building net-zero public buildings, electrifying their sedan and bus fleets (including school buses), and putting solar arrays on public buildings. State governments can do even more through enabling local government progress and fairly regulating industry to advance a clean energy economy.
What, according to you, is(are) the biggest challenge(s) when it comes to the sustainable use of natural resources and addressing climate change?
Limited public funds and reactive instincts are a challenge for governments in taking bold climate action. Having a climate champion makes a difference. And regional collaboration and public-private partnerships can help, such as the Arlington-Amazon-Dominion solar farm that will offset 880% of Arlington County government GHG emissions.
What could be the solution(s)? What are some projects or recent developments in this field that you are most excited about?
The vast improvement in solar and battery technology and cost will allow for energy to be distributed. This will provide more reliability and resiliency. Americans are better at change than we think, and young people and hi-tech companies are leading the clean energy revolution