The leaders of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia gathered on Monday to sign a historic climate action plan. Called the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, California Governor Jerry Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed the plan at the Fourth Annual Leaders’ Forum of the Pacific Coast Collaborative. The plan grew out of the Pacific Coast Collaborative whose membership consists of the three West Coast states and British Columbia. The three states and the Canadian province have a combined population of 53 million and GDP of $2.8 trillion, making the region the world’s fifth largest economy.
The four governments agreed to work together to count the costs of carbon pollution. California and British Columbia already have carbon pricing programs in place, and Washington and Oregon agreed to create programs. When there are carbon pricing programs in place in all four regions, they will link them together “for consistency and predictability and to expand opportunities to grow the region’s low-carbon economy.” However, it might be hard for the Washington governor to get a state legislature to pass a carbon pricing bill because the state Senate is controlled by Republicans opposed to cap-and-trade, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
The governments agreed to transition the West Coast to clean transportation and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector by adopting and maintaining low-carbon fuel standards. California and British Columbia already have standards, and Oregon and Washington committed to adopting standards. The four governments committed to take action to expand the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles, with a goal of 10 percent of new vehicle purchases by 2016. The Pacific Coast has the highest penetration of electric cars in North America. In addition, the three states and Canadian province agreed to continue deployment of high speed rail across the region, and support emerging markets and innovation for alternative fuels.
Other actions the governments agree to take include:
- Harmonizing the year 2050 targets for GHG reductions and develop mid-term targets
- Cooperating with national governments around the world to press for an international agreement on climate change in 2015
- Investing in clean energy and energy efficiency
- Urging the American and Canadian federal governments to take action on ocean acidification
- Supporting the U.S. EPA’s initiative to regulate GHG emissions from power plants
- Streamlining the permit process for renewable energy infrastructure
- Supporting the integration of the region’s electricity grids
Business leaders, environmental groups and California congressional member praise the plan
Some business leaders praised the Pacific Coast Action Plan, including Steve Clem, a Skanska vice president in Oregon. “Our leaders are setting smart policy, based on sound research,” said Clem. “If we follow through on it, we will guarantee a vibrant, healthy world for our children while also creating a sustainable, clean economy going forward.”
Environmental groups praised the plan, including Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:
This agreement will show the world that the Pacific Coast states aren’t waiting for Congress or governments worldwide to tackle climate change. We need more regions and governments to get serious and collaborate if we are to stave off the worst effects of global warming. State action to support President Obama’s climate plan is critical to meeting our carbon pollution reduction goals.”
California Congressman Henry A. Waxman, Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member, also praised the plan. “Once again, the West Coast is leading the way,” Waxman said. “California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia know that cutting pollution leads to a healthier environment and a stronger economy.”