North American governors representing 53 million people agree to account for the cost of carbon

Clare Saxon Ghauri
29 October 2013

NEW YORK: North American governors representing 53 million people have agreed to join forces on climate change, by signing an accord to put a price on carbon emissions and steam ahead with clean energy adoption.

Today the three US states of California, Oregon and Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy which aims to align the regions’ climate policies and 'lead national and international policy on climate change', although it is not legally binding. 

The leaders of the four jurisdictions pledged to account for the cost of carbon by either putting a price or cap on carbon emissions, and by potentially linking their systems together.

The Plan includes the following agreed actions:

  • Oregon will build on existing programs to set a price on carbon emissions
  • Washington will establish binding carbon emissions limits and a deploy market mechanisms to meet the limitations
  • British Columbia will maintain its carbon tax and California will maintain its cap-and-trade system
  • All four regions will connect their carbon-pricing efforts where possible
  • All four governments will also link on other programs such as integration of power grids to connect power markets and expand access to clean energy
  • All four will streamline permits for solar and wind projects and increase government purchases of electric vehicles to 10% of new vehicle purchases by 2016
  • Washington and Oregon will adopt low carbon fuel standards
  • All will 'harmonize' 2050 targets for greenhouse gas reductions and develop mid-term targets needed to support long-term reduction goals.

The accord also outlines the regions’ support for highly efficient ‘net zero’ buildings and the regulation of emissions from power plants.

Together, 53 million people live in the three Western US states and British Columbia, which have a combined yearly GDP of US$2.8 trillion - representing the fifth largest economy in the world.

California Governor Jerry Brown said at the press conference: “You are witnessing an historic, small, but powerful step. It’s only the beginning. You watch. Next year and the year after that and the year after that, this will spread until finally we get a real handle and grasp on what is the world’s greatest existential challenge - the stability of our climate, on which we all depend."

John Kitzhaber, Governor of Oregon, said: "Along the West Coast, we have collectively recognized that a clean economy, energy efficiency and green building provides probably the only path that we have to a sustainable future."

Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia and Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington signed the Plan along with Governor Kitzhaber and Governor Brown. 


Evan Juska, Head of US Policy, The Climate Group, commented: "The agreement signals a shift from similar agreements in the past, which envisioned states adopting a single, harmonized, climate policy. Instead, states are moving ahead with climate policies that best suit their domestic circumstances, and coordinating where it makes sense.

“The important thing is that, where the political will exists, states are indeed moving ahead.”

While the governors of Oregon and Washington have announced their support for cap and trade policies, they must also now move ahead with efforts to pass laws to enact these policies.

Read the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy

Related news:

Ahead of Labor Day, clean energy jobs steam ahead in America

California and Texas are best states for smart grids

Obama commits to regulating power plants in climate action plan

By Clare Saxon

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