California Governor Jerry Brown said on Thursday he plans to sign an agreement to formally align the state’s climate and clean-energy policies with those of Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia.
Mr. Brown will host the governors of the northwestern states and British Columbia’s environment minister in San Francisco on Monday to announce the partnership and details of an agreement aligning climate strategies among the four jurisdictions that together represent the world’s fifth largest economy.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s spokesperson said the Premier looks forward to working with the leaders of the three Pacific states along the direction suggested by the planned pact.
“In many ways the three states and the province are continental leaders when it comes to putting a price on carbon and setting ambitious goals on greenhouse-gas reductions, promoting and fostering growth and cleaner energy alternatives,” said communications director Ben Chin.
However, he added that B.C.’s carbon tax gives the province a point of leadership among the group that means there won’t be dramatic changes in policy.
“There aren’t any policy areas here where we are being asked to align with other states. We are being aligned, but we’re not having to change our targets or anything here,” he said.
The opposition environment critic in B.C. said the plan sounds promising, but he has some reservations.
“Any time we can work with partners to reduce climate-change emissions is a good thing,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert.
“Obviously we’re not alone. Decisions we make reflect our economy, Washington’s economy and our collective environment. We should be working with those partners. My question would be, will it be a pact of more talking or will it be a real commitment with real greenhouse-gas reductions?”
According to a joint media advisory, “The agreement will be based on the recognition that the West Coast is bounded together by a common geography, shared infrastructure and a regional economy with a combined GDP of $2.8-trillion.”
The four are members of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, which was formed in 2008 as a forum to share ideas on climate policies. Alaska is also part of the group.
Monday’s announcement will formally link their different programs and policies.
California has taken an aggressive approach to cutting carbon emissions from its economy, in part through the implementation of a carbon cap-and-trade system, which it plans to link next year with a similar effort in the Canadian province of Quebec.
It is unclear whether Monday’s agreement will address expanding the reach of the program to other states or territories, which is a stated goal of California officials. A source close to the negotiations said the pact would include a “carbon pricing component,” but would not elaborate.
In the past, Oregon and Washington have expressed interest in participating in a regional carbon market with California. They were members of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), an organization designed to facilitate market linkage.
But legislation to launch a carbon market failed in each state’s legislatures, where lawmakers feared it could harm their economies. Both states have since withdrawn from the WCI.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said earlier this month that he supports a state-wide cap-and-trade system to meet its goal to reduce emissions to 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2035.
British Columbia has levied a $30-per-tonne carbon tax for the past five years, designed to help it meet its goal of reducing emissions 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020.
Although British Columbia remains a member of the WCI, officials there have made no indications that they will move to implement a cap-and-trade system.
With a report from Ian Bailey in Vancouver