Pacific States Aren't Waiting for Congress to Tackle Climate Change, Governors Work Together

Posted on 29 October 2013

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By Annie Notthoff

Natural Resources Defense Council

Monday afternoon, the governors of California, Oregon, Washington, and the premier of British Columbia will sign an ambitious Pacific Coast climate and energy action plan that will encompass a population of 53 million in the world’s fifth-largest economic region.

Although the details aren’t being publicly released yet, early media reports by the Globe and Mail have indicated linking the region by “setting ambitious goals on greenhouse gas reductions” and “putting a price on carbon” pollution. This is just the kind of action that we need states to take on to meet national carbon pollution reduction goals and help make President Obama’s climate plan a success.

This is going to be very big news for climate control and for growing a clean energy economy. In fact, last year’s West Coast Clean Economy Report projected 1.03 million new jobs could be created in key sectors, such as energy efficiency and advanced transportation, “assuming the right policy environment.”

The aim of today’s voluntary agreement will be to establish that “right policy environment.” It’s great to see these four leaders get serious about tackling climate change here in San Francisco today, but, of course, whether or not they meet their laudable goals, depends on the day-to-day decisions they make back at home in Sacramento, Salem, Olympia and Victoria. Decisions to expand dirty fossil fuel development must not erase the benefits of these climate-friendly policies.

Given that the Pacific Coast region already accounts for $2.8 trillion (U.S. dollars) of gross domestic product, which would make it the fifth-largest economy in the world if it were its own country, this new agreement could have a major positive impact on national – and global – climate policy.

Today’s announcement is the latest action by the Pacific Coast Collaborative, which was established in 2008 “to address the unique and shared circumstances of the Pacific coastal areas and jurisdictions in North America by providing a framework for co-operative action, a forum for leadership and the sharing of information on best practices, and a common voice on issues facing coastal and Pacific jurisdictions.”

Climate and clean energy are great places for collaboration. When the formal announcement is made today in San Francisco, I’ll be there and I’ll be anxious to share my thoughts afterward.

This article was originally published at Switchboard, the Natural Resources Defense Council's staff blog.