SAN FRANCISCO - The leaders of six Western states and two Canadian provinces have approved the Western Climate Initiative. The initiative sets mandatory targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 15 percent by 2020. The initiative also gives the region one year to establish a market mechanism such as cap-and-trade for enabling businesses to meet their targets.

The Western Climate Initiative includes the U.S. states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba. According to news reports, the initiative is led by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2006, Schwarzenegger signed the region's first law setting mandatory targets for reducing carbon emissions.

According to California Secretary for Environmental Protection Linda Adams, the regional nature of the pact gives it considerable strength and sends a strong signal to consumers and businesses that emissions reduction targets are real. Adams also said the agreement is large enough that it will be difficult for firms with high emissions to avoid the targets simply by moving operations to a nearby state.

Janice Adair of the Washington Department of Ecology noted that now the hard bargaining begins about how to establish a regional market for emissions trading by August 2008.

Publication date:08/27/2007