West Coasters Aim To Lead On Climate Change

Governors are gettin’ after it. Or at least trying to.

Just days after the chief executives of eight states announced a plan to get 3.3 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2025, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington – along with the premier of British Columbia – on Monday signed on to a little pact called the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy.

image snipped from Pacific Coast Collaborative Action Plan PDF

image snipped from Pacific Coast Collaborative Action Plan PDF

The agreement to try to limit greenhouse-gas emissions is an outgrowth of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, which a year ago brought a pledge to implement strategies to move the public building stock toward net-zero energy building performance. So what does this new agreement do? Here’s the outline of the key elements, from the PCC itself:

Under the Action Plan, California and British Columbia will maintain their existing carbon pricing programs along with their respective clean fuel standards, while Oregon and Washington have committed to moving forward on a suite of similar policies. The leaders further agreed to harmonize their 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets and develop mid-term targets where needed to set a path toward long-term reductions.

The region these four leaders represent has a combined population of 53 million and a gross domestic product totaling $2.8 trillion, so such joint action could have a profound impact.

That said, while California and B.C. have demonstrated their willingness to act on pricing or limiting greenhouse gas emissions, Oregon and Washington haven’t; Democratic governors Jay Inslee of Washington and John Kitzhaber of Oregon need their legislatures to get on board. Similarly, the plan calls for low-carbon fuel standards, something California and B.C. already have, but that Washington and Oregon’s lawmakers would need to pass.

A PDF of the Action Plan is available online here.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.