Looking for Climate Action? Look West..
by Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance for a Green Economy
While international leaders meet in Doha, Qatar, to discuss climate action, most U.S. leaders are focused on the “fiscal cliff” instead of the climate cliff.” Yet leaders along America’s Pacific coast are already actively reducing emissions, preparing for climate impacts, and transitioning to a clean energy economy.
As a prime example, California’s landmark clean energy and climate law, AB 32, led to a successful first auction of greenhouse gas pollution credits that raised $290 million for the state in November. California is also a member of the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC), a cross-border group of state and provincial leaders working on joint solutions for shared problems like climate change, including putting a price on carbon – a position that the PCC leaders voiced jointly for the first time on the day California launched its auction.
The PCC is based on an agreement signed by the leaders of five Pacific jurisdictions – California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the Province of British Columbia – in June 2008. It was created to boost cooperative work around big issues like promoting clean energy, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and investing in critical infrastructure needs necessary to building more resilient cities. For example, the new West Coast Infrastructure Exchange, launched in November, will work to develop innovative new methods to finance and facilitate development of the regional infrastructure needed to create jobs and enhance the quality of life of the people living in the region. The PCC leaders hope that their example will ultimately lead other decision makers, at state, regional and national levels, to promote collaborative efforts to tackle big issues like clean energy and climate change.
These leaders know we can’t continue depending on dirty fuels developed a century ago that pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink. Innovative partnerships between government and business to develop clean sources of energy, like wind and solar, will help us create jobs here at home that cannot be outsourced.
Recent polls have shown broad support for policies like California’s climate law, and for maintaining and expanding efforts across the region to account for the costs of carbon pollution and invest in clean energy sources by ensuring polluters pay when they contribute to climate change. These polls demonstrate that even in a tough economy, voters in the region prioritize efforts to hasten the transition towards cleaner energy and tackle climate change while growing the economy.
California, Oregon, Washington, and their partners in British Columbia, are leading the way toward a cleaner, more prosperous future, and setting the standard for effective collaboration. They’ve got their priorities straight. There’s nothing more important we can do for future generations than leave them with a healthy, prosperous world.