Three West Coast States Join with British Columbia in Regional Climate Pact

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On October 28, 2013, the states of California, Oregon, and Washington joined with the Canadian province of British Columbia to sign a regional agreement that promises to coordinate long-term climate policy, including the development of carbon-pricing policies, low-carbon fuel standards, and zero emissions vehicles, and investment in clean energy and “climate-resistant infrastructure.”

California’s first-in-the-nation Cap and Trade Program for greenhouse gas emissions took effect on January 1, 2013, and British Columbia has had a carbon tax intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in place since 2008.  Under the agreement, entitled the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, the State of Washington promises to implement “binding limits on carbon emissions and deploy market mechanisms to meet those limits.”  The State of Oregon promises to “build on existing programs to set a price on carbon emissions.”

The agreement does not affect California’s existing Cap and Trade Program or British Columbia’s carbon tax.  In addition, while expressing the signatories’ intent to link their carbon pricing programs “where possible,” the agreement will not expand California’s Cap and Trade “linkage” program beyond the state’s existing arrangement with the Canadian province of Quebec.

The agreement also commits the signatories to the harmonization of 2050 targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the interim targets needed to achieve long-term reduction goals, but does not set quantitative targets for those emissions reductions.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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