Washington to expand its climate impact

Olympia, WA— Washington's Department of Ecology (Ecology) announced its decision to formally pursue the expansion of Washington's landmark cap-and-invest program by merging with California-Québec's joint carbon market. Ecology's announcement comes after months of gathering public comment, analyzing stakeholder input, and producing a preliminary report that lays out the potential opportunities and obstacles of joining the California-Québec market. 

The decision sets in motion a more than year-long process where Ecology must collaborate closely with California and Québec and continue soliciting public feedback to negotiate the conditions, structures, and processes for a possible combining of the three jurisdictions' carbon pricing programs.

What this decision means for Washington

The impact of combining markets, often referred to as "linkage," largely comes down to implementation. But through the negotiation process, Ecology has a critical opportunity and obligation to ensure linkage benefits Washington's and California's communities by increasing climate ambition — especially in California, which currently has less stringent pollution reduction requirements — and improving environmental justice outcomes, all while delivering cost savings, efficiency, and stability. 

Achieving these benefits comes with some significant challenges. It is imperative that Ecology work with Washington's communities, the Environmental Justice Council, Tribes, and all interested parties to ensure linkage protects vulnerable populations and maintains Washington's ability to meet its robust climate mandates. You can read more about these opportunities here.

What environmental organizations have to say on this announcement: 

"The strengths of Washington's Cap & Invest program are that it sets ambitious decarbonization targets, directs revenue to frontline communities for climate resilience, and prioritizes air quality to ensure the burden of pollution is not born by communities of color and Native communities. As our state takes steps to link our carbon market with California and Québec, we must safeguard these commitments and build them into the joint program."
David Mendoza, Director of Policy & Government Relations
The Nature Conservancy of Washington

"Washington's groundbreaking cap-and-invest law is designed to reduce dangerous pollution at its source and meet our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. The knowledge of people in communities across our state is necessary in any effort to scale up climate action and remedy injustice and health disparities in communities that are overburdened by pollution. As linkage negotiations proceed, it will be critical for the Department of Ecology to center environmental justice, work closely with Tribal Nations, and ensure meaningful opportunities for public participation." 
Caitlin Krenn, Climate and Clean Energy Campaign Senior Manager 
Washington Conservation Action 

"Merging with California-Québec's joint carbon market presents a major opportunity for Washington. Not only does it promote savings through more cost-effective emissions reductions projects, it positions us to increase ambition on climate and environmental justice in all three jurisdictions. But in order for these benefits to come to bear, Ecology must center environmental justice, prioritize protections for vulnerable populations, and maintain the integrity of our climate mandates as it seeks to merge its market." 
Kelly Hall, Washington Policy Director
Climate Solutions

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The article was written by Climate Solutions staff. Our individual bios can be found here.

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