Tired of waiting for adults to take over in the US Congress in time to do something meaningful about climate change, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington have joined forces with British Columbia to form a climate action plan.
On Monday afternoon, according to a press release from Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, he met with the other leaders in San Francisco to sign the pact. California Governor Jerry Brown sponsored the meeting that also included Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and British Columbia’s Premier Christy Clark (via teleconference), while BC Environment Minister Mary Polak participated in person.
“California isn't waiting for the rest of the world before it takes action on climate change,” said Governor Brown. “Today, California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are all joining together to reduce greenhouse gases.”
The Pacific Coast leaders finalized the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy. According to Inslee’s statement their region “represents the world’s fifth largest economy.” They are committed “to a comprehensive and far-reaching strategic alignment to combat climate change and promote clean energy.” The plan also includes strategies to coordinate and link to other states and provinces across North America in an ongoing effort to add partners.
Currently, the region represents 53 million people.
“This Action Plan represents the best of what Pacific Coast governments are already doing, and calls on each of us to do more—together—to create jobs by leading in the clean energy economy, and to meet our moral obligation to future generations,” said Governor Inslee. “Each of the governments here is already taking bold steps on climate change. By joining forces, we will accomplish even more."
Numerous business leaders support the Action Plan and called it an important move to enhanced national and international policies on climate and energy.
“Our company is seeing significant growth on the Pacific Coast, and it is encouraging that the trend is concurrent with this landmark accord,” said Steve Clem, Vice President of Skanska USA of Portland, Oregon, one of the ten largest construction companies in the U.S. “In this time of political grandstanding and gridlock, private enterprises like ours that are trying to do the right thing are pleased by the recognition here that it really is possible to grow the economy, create jobs and still do our part as a region to fight climate change.”
Cisco Systems and Taylor Shellfish Farms also support the Action Plan.
Climate Progress outlined the highlights of the Action Plan:
1. Account for the cost of carbon, by linking existing carbon pricing programs and working to develop them in Oregon and Washington. Oregon agreed to “build on existing programs to set a price on carbon emissions,” while Washington would “set binding limits on carbon emissions and deploy market mechanisms to meet those limits.” If Oregon and Washington’s plans pass and the programs successfully link with California and BC’s current cap and trade plan, a larger market for the region’s carbon allowances would be a boon for business and economic efficiency. All states will establish long-term 2050 targets.
2. Implement low-carbon fuel standards in each jurisdiction, meaning again that California and British Columbia will maintain their standard and Washington and Oregon will move to implement them. Each jurisdiction hopes to merge the standards into an integrated West Coast market. It also signaled support for high-speed rail infrastructure and innovation, as well as accelerating investment in other alternative fuels across the transportation section.
3. Embrace clean energy in a number of different ways. The four jurisdictions said they would promote ease of access to energy-efficient buildings, ensure climate-smart infrastructure investment, streamline approval for renewable energy projects, and work to expand the regional electric grids. Each state will also support EPA regulation of greenhouse gases from power plants, emphasizing the value of allowing state flexibility.
"We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change and we are the last generation who can do something about it," Inslee was quoted in the Sun Herald.
Alaska’s Republican Governor Sean Parnell, who took over the office after Sarah Palin resigned in July, 2009, declined to join the Action Plan.