By Chloe Aiello

Climate change needs to be the highest priority of the U.S. government, Washington governor and 2020 presidential hopeful Jay Inslee told Cheddar on Friday from Columbia University, where he joined throngs of students rallying in support of clean energy solutions.

"We know it is a national emergency, but we need to get everyone working on this, including the U.S. Congress," Inslee said. "It has to be the highest priority in the United States."

While stopping short of saying he would declare a national emergency to flight climate change ー similar to the one President Trump declared to build a border wall ー Inslee does support the controversial step of ending the Senate filibuster, which requires a 60-vote Senate majority to pass legislation. Ending the filibuster has been dubbed the "nuclear option," but Inslee has argued it would be difficult for a Democratic candidate to make many lasting changes without it.

"Frankly, you can't say you're committed to fighting climate change unless you're willing to stand up and say 'the filibuster has got to go,'" he said.

Inslee, who added his name to an increasingly crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls early in March, is making the existential threat of climate change a central focus of his campaign. An experienced Democrat without the national name recognition of some of his 2020 rivals, Inslee aims to bring the issue front and center by promoting "an economic transformation" based on clean energy infrastructure that he said will grow millions of jobs across the country.

"Look, I got a little electric car made by General Motors ($GM) in Michigan, we're making batteries in Nevada, we're putting up wind turbines in Iowa, we're making biofuels and carbon fiber that goes in electric cars in my state. In every state in the country, there's an opportunity for Americans for good paying jobs," he said.

"We know we can do this because we are the inventors, this is right in our lane," he added.

Asked whether or not he supported the Green New Deal endorsed by progressive darlings like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), he said only that he "supports these aspirations," before running off to rejoin student protesters at Columbia, who were demonstrating as part of a worldwide rally to protest climate change inaction.

"In youth is the preservation of the world and if the world is going to be preserved, we need to listen to the young folks," Inslee said. "They're full of optimism, that's what we need right now. They need ... a president who will join them in an effort to build a clean energy future."

For full interview click here.