Three U.S. states, British Columbia to ink climate pact

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:39pm BST

Governor Jerry Brown of California speaks at the Center for American Progress 10th Anniversary policy forum in Washington, October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Governor Jerry Brown of California speaks at the Center for American Progress 10th Anniversary policy forum in Washington, October 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - 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 the Canadian province of British Columbia.

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 their climate strategies.

The move would "strengthen the region's global leadership on combating climate change and promoting clean energy solutions," said Sam Oliphant, press secretary for British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, who will attend the meeting via teleconference.

The four jurisdictions together represent the world's fifth largest economy, he said.

"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," according to a joint media advisory.

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 earlier this month said he supports a state-wide cap-and-trade system to meet its goal to reduce emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035.

British Columbia has levied a C$30 per metric ton carbon tax for the past five years, designed to help it meet its goal of reducing emissions 33 percent 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.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington and Rory Carroll in San Francisco; editing by Ros Krasny and Andrew Hay)

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