West Coast States, B.C. Join in Fight Against Climate Change

Oct 28, 2013

Efforts to combat climate change got a boost from the West Coast as the leaders of Washington, Oregon, and California as well as the premier of British Columbia signed a new pact Monday.

Under the new plan, called the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, Washington and Oregon have agreed to adopt policies similar to those already in place in British Columbia and California. B.C. put a tax on carbon emissions in 2008, and California adopted a cap-and-trade system early last year.

Speaking at the signing event in San Francisco, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he’s heard from constituents across the state who want limits on carbon, too.

“So simply put, I don’t think it’s too much to say that on the West Coast, we intend to design the future, not to wreck it,” he said.

Inslee said the plan unites the West Coast in a joint goal.

“And that joint goal is to make sure that our one and only atmosphere is no longer allowed to be an unlimited dump for carbon polluters,” he said.

The agreement doesn’t spell out how new carbon limits will be met in Washington and Oregon, though Inslee has stated his preference for cap-and-trade. However, half of a bipartisan work group he chairs disagrees.

What is clear is that there will be new limits on carbon from transportation fuels, which make up about 40 percent of Washington’s greenhouse gas pollution. The new plan has a stated goal of making 10 percent of new vehicle purchases zero-emission electrics by 2016.

The plan is a successor to the 2007 Western Climate Initiative, which fizzled when six states left it two years ago. That stalled effort was only cap and trade.  

Gregg Small, executive director of the Seattle-based nonprofit group Climate Solutions, attended the signing. He says the pact is a huge step forward.

“The four jurisdictions here represent the fifth largest economy in the world. And by coming together and collaborating on taking strong action on climate change, I think sends a really strong signal that we can cut carbon and grow a clean energy economy. And that’s the direction we need to be moving, as quickly as possible," Small said.