Climate change’s coming of age
If you think about the evolution of climate change policy as a child growing up, I’d argue that we’re firmly planted in the teenage years: we’ve seen solid development, but now we’re weathering plenty of rebellion that reinforces how far we still have to go to comfortably claim adulthood.
Recently, climate change denial among certain politicians, combined with an increasing number of extreme weather events, has been nothing short of alarming. As we ready ourselves for a particularly divisive election year, it’s increasingly obvious that if we’re going to achieve meaningful progress on climate over the next few years, it’s not going to come federally, but rather from the state level. And with wildfires, hurricanes and floods beating at every corner of the nation’s door, the teenager needs some guidance and direction.
Here on the West Coast, we are uniquely positioned to launch a state-led climate renaissance. California, Oregon and Washington have already grown up a little and taken those first steps towards a low-carbon future. Landmark agreements to phase out coal burned in Oregon and Washington have positioned the Pacific Northwest to be the first coal-free region in the United States.
California has the most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the nation, which creates an opportunity for robust renewable energy markets up and down the West Coast. All three states have adopted some of the strongest building codes in the country and the Clean Car Standards. California and Canadian provinces are also forging ahead on a comprehensive cap-and-trade system that will raise revenue for renewable and efficiency projects.
But our work is far from done. In Oregon, we’ve stabilized our emissions, but need a concerted effort to meet our 2020 climate goals. A new era of climate policy will require digging deeper into sector-by-sector strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are significant opportunities for regional collaboration in the following three areas.