Stakeholder Attempt to Meld West and CA Cap & Trade Programs

By Published On: December 7, 2007

Like a diverse family of 190 sitting down for a holiday dinner, the Western Climate Initiative stakeholder conference December 6 grappled with how to accommodate precocious California–with its sights on changing the climate world for the better. Its Western sibling states share the same goal but are weighed down by more political baggage. Stakeholders specifically expressed concerns about melding a Western regional carbon cap-and-trade program with California’s plans to implement its plans to curb global warming. A Western region cap and trade may be initiated in 2013. California’s 2012 deadline “is not a drop dead date for purposes of incorporating regional action into the overall context of AB 32,” noted Chuck Shulock, California Air Resources Board assistant executive officer. He said implementation of AB 32, California’s greenhouse gas reduction law, was being shaped by “what is going on here regionally,” adding the state was looking for a “clear commitment toward a region approach.” The participating Western states are also expected to release mandatory reporting rules. California’s Climate Registry is supposed to provide the mandatory reporting framework for the Western initiative, according to state representatives. Western state regulators said they were focusing on developing a regional cap-and-trade program at this time. Other greenhouse emission reduction strategies are not yet on the table. “There are obviously complementary policies that can be approved,” pointed out Theo Spencer, of the Natural Resource Defense Council Climate Center. “We have a very limited window to reduce emission to levels we need.” State officials said they would incorporate California’s and other state cap-and-trade economic analyses into a regional one. Still under discussion is the point of regulation–be it the original source of pollution, such as oil refineries–or the end user, and which industries will be covered by a region-wide carbon cap. California and other Western states agreed in February 2007 to jointly achieve a 15 percent cut in their global warming gases by 2020. In contrast, California’s AB 32 sets a 29 percent reduction of the 1990 level by 2020. Utah, British Columbia, and Manitoba-agreed to a 15 percent cut from 2005 carbon emissions over the next 13 years in August. In addition to California, participating states include Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington. Montana hopes to soon join the Initiative. A one-day Western Climate Initiative stakeholder workshop will be held January 10, 2008 in Portland, Oregon.

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