Multi-state Collaboration Establishes Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Goal

On Aug. 22, eight members of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) announced that they have established a regional goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the West to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

In February, the governors of Washington, Arizona, California, New Mexico and Oregon created the WCI with a long-term commitment to significantly reduce regional GHG emissions. As part of this commitment, WCI members agreed to establish a Western regional GHG reduction goal by the end of August. They also agreed to design a multi-sector market-based mechanism, such as a load-based cap-and-trade program, by the end of August 2008 to help reach the goal. Each member will also participate in a multi-state GHG emissions registry.

Since February, Utah and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba also have joined the WCI. All eight states and provinces jointly agreed upon the economy-wide regional goal announced on Aug. 22.

The regional goal combines the individual GHG emissions goals that each WCI member already has set and does not replace the members' individual goals. The WCI members will use the regional goal in the design of the multi-sector market-based mechanism. Also, other U.S. states, tribes, Canadian provinces and Mexican states that want to join the WCI must have an economy-wide greenhouse gas reduction goal that is consistent with the regional goal, in addition to other factors.

Four other U.S. states (Colorado, Kansas, Nevada and Wyoming), three other Canadian provinces (Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan) and one Mexican state (Sonora) are participating as observers to the WCI's deliberations. Some of these entities, as well as others, may seek to join the WCI as full members in the future.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) said, "In the absence of federal leadership, states and provinces have stepped up to meet the challenge of global climate change. We are working together to agree on common goals that will reduce our region's contribution to the problem while recognizing the states' individual goals. In Washington, we are committed to meeting the challenge and seizing the opportunities presented by climate change."

In addition to establishing the regional GHG reduction goal, the WCI members have begun work on meeting the August 2008 deadline for designing the multi-sector market-based mechanism. All eight WCI members also have joined The Climate Registry, a GHG emissions registry consisting of more than 40 U.S. states, tribes, Canadian provinces and Mexican states.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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