Western Climate Initiative Still Plans to Have Regional Cap-and-Trade Program by 2012

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LOS ANGELES--Representatives of the Western Climate Initiative said April 13 they remain committed to launching a regional greenhouse gas emissions trading program that would link California's recently adopted multi-sector cap-and-trade program with those being developed by four Canadian provinces.

Speaking at a forum in Los Angeles, the WCI representatives said California, British Columbia, and Quebec are working toward a 2012 start date for the regional program. Ontario and Manitoba are expected to join later.

“We hope this will encourage others to join us,” said California Air Resources Board Executive Officer James Goldstene, who is co-chairman of the WCI committee.

California, six other states, and the four Canadian provinces formed WCI in 2007 to jointly develop a regional greenhouse gas emissions trading program and to collaborate on other efforts to curb the heat-trapping gases.

Economic Downturn Stalls Programs.

The economic downturn, and in some cases political shifts, have prompted Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Montana to back away from implementing climate change policies. Though a move by New Mexico's new governor to repeal that state's carbon reduction rule recently failed, implementation of a trading program is not expected (42 ER 663, 3/25/11).

California plans to implement its emissions cap-and-trade program in 2012 under state law A.B. 32 (42 ER 581, 3/18/11).

The state also is discussing linking its trading system with the European Union. (See related article in this issue.)

WCI representatives from the Canadian provinces said their respective government agencies are working to finalize their climate policies and regulations, but approval could be slowed by other legislative priorities.

Range of Strategies.

Meanwhile, WCI partners are working together to develop complementary climate action measures that the states not involved in the trading program can implement.

This approach “will include a range of strategies and policies to grow the low-carbon energy economy in North America,” WCI said in an update posted on its website.

CARB's Goldstene said WCI also is meeting regularly with representatives from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the eastern United States to learn from their experience in implementing a trading program, as well as with midwestern states that remain interested in pursuing climate policies.

RGGI members are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

By Carolyn Whetzel  

The Western Climate Initiative's update on implementing a regional cap-and-trade program is available at http://www.westernclimateinitiative.org/news-and-updates/129-wci-status-update.