What climate leadership looks like
Together, this West Coast bloc represents the fifth largest economy on the planet. If successful, the West Coast will form a powerful curtain of leadership, demonstrating that it is possible to significantly cut carbon and grow a vibrant clean energy economy.
By Gregg Small
Last week, I was lucky enough to be in San Francisco for an historic milestone on the road to winning on climate change and clean energy. The Governors of Washington, Oregon, California, and the Premier of British Columbia signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Clean Energy.
These leaders made commitments for aggressive action, including putting limits and a price on greenhouse gas emissions; and a Clean Fuels Standard to reduce the climate impacts of transportation.
This is a big deal. Together, this West Coast bloc represents the fifth largest economy on the planet. If successful, the West Coast will form a powerful curtain of leadership, demonstrating that it is possible to significantly cut carbon and grow a vibrant clean energy economy.
It was an incredible day, and I was honored to be at the event along with a few dozen business leaders including Skanska, Taylor Shellfish, Microsoft, Imperium Renewables, K2, Iberdrola, the Portland Trail Blazers, Cisco, The Gap, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. These leaders represent a wide range of companies that are feeling the effects of climate change and are pioneering cost-effective and profitable solutions.
Steve Clem of Skanska joined the Governors at the podium, and gave a powerful talk about how important the agreement was. He also authored an op-ed published in the Sustainable Business Oregon.
The agreement got widespread media coverage, including landing on the front page of The San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and The Seattle Times. Below is the press release from the announcement.
We think this is a huge step forward, and are excited to turn the promise of the Pacific Coast Agreement into action, and help to unleash the clean energy economy across the West Coast.
PACIFIC COAST ACTION PLAN ON CLIMATE AND ENERGY
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CALIFORNIA, OREGON & WASHINGTON
JOIN FORCES TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
West Coast Leaders Commit to Accounting for the Costs of Carbon, Clean Fuel Standards, Other Clean Energy Priorities for Region of 53 Million People
SAN FRANCISCO – The leaders of British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy today, committing their governments, and a region that represents the world’s fifth largest economy, to a comprehensive and far-reaching strategic alignment to combat climate change and promote clean energy.
California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Washington Governor Jay Inslee were joined at Cisco SF by British Columbia’s Premier Christy Clark, who participated via TelePresence from Victoria. BC Environment Minister Honourable Mary Polak attended in person.
Through the Action Plan, the leaders agreed that all four jurisdictions will account for the costs of carbon pollution and that, where appropriate and feasible, link programs to create consistency and predictability across the region of 53 million people. The leaders also committed to adopting and maintaining low carbon fuel standards in each jurisdiction. In a joint statement, the leaders committed to “meaningful coordination and linkage between states and provinces across North America.”
“This Action Plan represents the best of what Pacific Coast governments are already doing, and calls on each of us to do more—together—to create jobs by leading in the clean energy economy, and to meet our moral obligation to future generations,” said Governor Inslee. “Each of the governments here is already taking bold steps on climate change; by joining forces, we will accomplish even more," Inslee said.
Flanked by supportive business and labor leaders, the governors and Premier redoubled their commitment to growing the region’s clean energy economy. The region covered by the Action Plan has a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion—effectively the world’s fifth largest economy.
“Oregon supports the Action Plan because we are already seeing how our commitment to clean energy is changing the face and fortune of our state, accounting for $5 billion in economic activity and 58,000 jobs,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “The debate is over. The scientific community no longer disputes that climate change is happening and human-caused. But regardless of where you stand on this question, there’s another good reason to act: transitioning to a clean economy creates jobs,” Kitzhaber said.
Under the Action Plan, California and British Columbia will maintain their existing carbon pricing programs along with their respective clean fuel standards, while Oregon and Washington have committed to moving forward on a suite of similar policies. The leaders further agreed to harmonize their 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets and develop mid-term targets where needed to set a path toward long-term reductions.
“California isn't waiting for the rest of the world before it takes action on climate change,” said Governor Brown. “Today, California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are all joining together to reduce greenhouse gases,” Brown said.
The leaders pledged to cooperate with governments and sub-national governments around the world to press for a global agreement on climate change in 2015.
“Taking action to address climate change in our own capitals is an important first step,” said Premier Clark. “By supplying cleaner energy and associated technologies to help others reduce their emissions while growing the economy and creating jobs at home, our generation has an opportunity to lead on the world stage. This agreement signals we are ready to innovate and work together to achieve a healthy, strong, and secure future,“ Clark said.
Business leaders hailed the Action Plan as an important milestone and a boost to efforts for national and international policy change.
“Our company is seeing significant growth on the Pacific Coast, and it is encouraging that the trend is concurrent with this landmark accord,” said Steve Clem, Vice President of Skanska USA of Portland, Oregon, one of the ten largest construction companies in the U.S.
“In this time of political grandstanding and gridlock, private enterprises like ours that are trying to do the right thing are pleased by the recognition here that it really is possible to grow the economy, create jobs and still do our part as a region to fight climate change,” Clem said.
Blair Christie, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Cisco, hosted the signing ceremony with the leaders. Dave Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance, and Bill Dewey, President of Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton, Washington, also spoke at the event.
The Pacific Coast Collaborative was established 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.