6 States Pull Out of Western Climate Initiative

After the Northeast carbon trading program reported on its great success last week, generating $1.6 billion for the region’s economy, 6 states pulled out of a similar initiative planned for the western part of the US.

New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Utah all formally declined to participate in the Western Climate Initiative, leaving only California and four Canadian provinces – British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Instead, the states say they will join a new national program, the North America 2050 Initiative, which they say gives states much wider choice as to how they will reduce emissions and deal with environmental issues.

British Columbia’s Environment Minister Terry Lake told the Vancouver Sun that the continuing recession and the election of Republican governors in some of the states has lowered their priorities to address climate change.

California plans to participate in both programs in addition to its state-level cap-and-trade system, which begins next year.

"Whether through adopting California’s Advanced Clean Cars program, or implementing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard, or requiring energy efficiency audits for major industrial polluters, or requiring electrical utilities to serve their customers with renewable energy, there are many opportunities for states and provinces to take real, measurable steps to cut carbon emissions and reduce petroleum dependency," says Mary Nichols, Chair of California’s Air Resources Board, which is in charge of the cap-and-trade program.

Nichols says California will continue to work through the Western Climate Initiative to put in place a comprehensive cap-and-trade program. "After several years of study and deliberation, the National Academy of Sciences recommended pricing carbon emissions to drive major investments in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies as part of a comprehensive strategy.  We are confident that the successful track record and economic benefits of cap-and-trade programs will encourage additional states and provinces to join us in leading the clean energy economy."

British Columbia plans to stay in the Western initiative, but isn’t sure if it will go ahead with cap-and-trade because it could interfere with its existing carbon tax, which is finding success.

It’s also in the first phase of its own carbon market where the Pacific Carbon Trust buys carbon credits from industry and sells them to schools and hospitals. The province requires public institutions to be carbon neutral and last year, raised $18.2 million in carbon offsets. 

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