(Bonn, Germany) — Today at the COP23 global climate change talks in Bonn, Germany, Governor Kate Brown was joined by Governors Jerry Brown from California and Jay Inslee from Washington to discuss their regional objective of phasing out fossil fuels and moving toward a vibrant, growing clean energy economy. The discussion highlighted the ways Pacific Coast states, in partnership with British Columbia, are leading the charge on climate change.
“We are pushing the envelope in the U.S. and Canada,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Job by job, we are building an economy that helps lift up all Oregonians to thrive now and into the future.”
With the Trump administration’s retreat from the Paris Agreement and the Clean Power Plan, the governors used the panel, titled “Leadership for 2050: Subnational Action with a Long-Term Vision,” to discuss how they are moving forward in building a robust clean energy economy with or without federal leadership. The leaders detailed their collaborative efforts, in coordination with the private sector and other stakeholders, to reduce carbon pollution, integrate the region’s power grid, develop an interstate electric vehicle charging network, combat ocean acidification, and encourage innovation and job growth.
Oregon, California, Washington, and British Columbia are members of a regional partnership called the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC), which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonize the economy, and build thriving sustainable communities through the adoption of clean energy policies, sharing of expertise and resources, and collective action.
The PCC represents the world’s fifth-largest economy, a region of 55 million people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion. This collaborative is the biggest, most advanced attempt to create a low-carbon future of any transboundary region in the world. The PCC’s progress is detailed in this year’s report card.
Since 2005, regional nominal gross domestic product has grown by 20 percent while total region wide emissions have declined more than six percent. Public and private-sector cooperation is transforming key economic sectors, putting the region on a path toward reducing emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Since passage of California’s signature climate change and clean energy law, AB 32, in 2006, per capita emissions in the state dropped by 12 percent while GDP grew by over 20 percent, and the number of workers in the labor force jumped by nearly 9 percent. In 2015, Oregon’s GDP was 30 percent higher than in 2005 while total statewide greenhouse gas emissions were down 6 percent. Washington’s per capita GHG emissions decreased by 4.5 metric tons from 1990 to 2014. From 2007 to 2014, British Columbia’s real GDP grew by over 12 percent while GHG emissions declined.
Over 350,000 zero-emission and low-emission vehicles are on the roads in a fast-growing West Coast market. Across the region, sales rose an average of nearly 25 percent per year in the last three years. Through investment and policies like Renewable Portfolio Standards, power supplied by renewable energy, beyond hydroelectric, has increased more than 250 percent from 2005 to 2015, averaging around 14 percent growth every year.
Quotes from Governors Jerry Brown and Jay Inslee:
“Our partnership has staying power almost a decade after we signed our first agreement, even as administrations have changed in all four governments, because the work we are doing on climate change and clean energy simply can’t wait,” said Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. of California. “We don’t have that luxury, and so we’re moving forward.”
“The West Coast offers a blueprint: this is how you build a thriving, innovative economy that combats climate change and embraces a zero-emission future,” said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state. “We know it’s possible because we’re doing it.”
Other links to the conference: