The governors of five western states have established the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative to pursue a joint effort to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and New Mexico will set regional targets for reducing greenhouse gases within the next six months, and plan to develop a market-based program, such as a load-based cap-and-trade program, to reach those targets, over the next eighteen months. Additional goals of the Initiative include developing a multi-state greenhouse gas registry to facilitate tracking, management, and crediting for entities that reduce emissions, promoting renewable energy use and increasing energy efficiency within the five states, and advocating for western states' needs and interests in regional and national climate policy debates.
The Initiative has a good head start on these tasks, as it can build on the individual efforts of these states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are already in place, including renewable portfolio standards, emissions reporting, and two existing regional efforts, the West Coast Global Warming Initiative that California and Washington established in 2003, and the Southwest Climate Change Initiative Arizona and New Mexico launched in 2006.
The Initiative is the latest of a growing number of examples of states and regions taking actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions as discussions of nationwide emissions standards are still in their nascent stages. At the announcement of the Initiative's creation, the five governors pointed to increases in drought periods, decreased snowfall, earlier snowmelt, and more severe forest and rangeland fires as threats to their economies which depend heavily on tourism, snow-sports, agriculture and livestock. Due to similar concerns in neighboring Utah, Utah's governor has stated he will consider joining the Initiative as well.