I'm Just a Bill

While US federal climate activities were full of hope last week, the mood on the west coast turned sour.

A report released by the Western Business Roundtable (WBR) in late February, for all intents and purposes, attempted to thwart efforts by several Western Climate Intiative (WCI) states. These include New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, which were in the midst of heated debates over climate bills in their state houses. Among other dire warnings and false assumptions, the WBR report claimed that the cap-and-trade program would prolong the recession, drive away investment, and do nothing to combat climate change.

And business-as-usual would?

The climate bill battle in Washington State, in particular, has been a hot one (excuse my overused climate phrases). A Senate Bill that was passed on February 25th was an entirely voluntary emissions reductions program. It defended itself by arguing that the recent economic downturn has:

"reduced the rate of growth in greenhouse gas emissions and that it is unnecessary at this time to adopt new regulatory limits across significant sectors of emissions sources."

Then, a House version emerged that contained no language on the amount of auctioning. With federal climate legislation looking towards the outcome of the WCI right now, waiting for the moment when new regulations are "necessary" sounds both weak and climate-change denalist.

By emitting less CO2 now, we'll be slowing the rate of increase. By practicing energy efficiency now (which the WBR completely discounts), we'll be freeing up financial and infrastructural resources. By making polluters pay now, we'll be producing huge amounts of revenue that can be returned to consumers to "stimulate" the economy (consumers would also be benefiting from lower bills from energy efficiency programs).

Not to say that the WCI doesn't have its fair share of concerns (see my earlier blog on offsets), such as the 2,000MW of anticipated new hydro capacity in Canada and in particular, the possibility that the WCI will include CDM credits. But just as the WCI Offsets Committee will be closely monitoring the CDM (as noted in the newly released Working Plan), so will we. And we'll be sure to let them know about how the CDM is hurting our efforts to reach a stable and just climate.