West Coast Leaders Unite To Tackle Climate Change

(3BL/JustMeans) Climate change is the biggest crisis facing us today. We are already feeling the impacts. Weather events are more extreme, with increased floods and more droughts, sea levels are rising, and oceans are warming and becoming more acidic. It’s clear we have to work hard to keep global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, the level scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The entire West Coast is joining together to tackle climate change. Earlier this month, leaders from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia joined with mayors from Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland and Vancouver to ban together to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and expand clean energy through the Pacific North America Climate Leadership Agreement. The region has a combined population of 53 million people and a $2.8 trillion GDP. The leaders and mayors announced the Agreement at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM 7) in San Francisco. 

The areas of cooperation include buildings, transportation, energy and waste. Some of the specific actions the state leaders and mayors agreed to take include:

  • Collaborating on designing and implementing approaches to large building energy benchmarking and disclosure, with the target for at least 75 percent of eligible large building square footage to report energy data through connected state, provincial and city programs.
  • Developing and implementing approaches to encourage consumers to use zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) through incentives and by urging manufacturers and retailers to increase the amount and variety of ZEVs available in Pacific Coast markets.
  • Creating a comprehensive charging network for electric vehicles (EVs) along major highways systems running from Southern California to British Columbia. 
  • Adding public charging infrastructure in major population centers. 
  • Accelerating the deployment of distributed and community-scale renewable energy.
  • Lowering the carbon intensity of heating fuels in both residential and commercial buildings.
  • Advancing food waste prevention and recovery initiatives.

This is not the first environmental collaboration between West Coast leaders. In 2008, the leaders of five jurisdictions within the West Coast signed the Pacific Coast Collaborative Agreement, a pre-cursor to the current agreement. The West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health, formed in 2006, is a collaboration between California, Oregon, Washington and to protect the ocean and coastal regions along the West Coast. The Western Climate Initiative links the carbon trading programs of California, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

In addition to reducing the West Coast’s emissions, the Agreement will help create jobs. Clean energy and clean transportation sectors create jobs. A report by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) released in March found that over 2.5 million Americans work in clean energy and businesses across the U.S. Energy efficiency is the largest job-creator, with almost 1.9 million working within the field in the U.S. Renewable energy follows with almost 414,000 people Americans working in renewable energy generation. 

Photo: Flickr/Alejandro De La Cruz