With Copenhagen already a fading memory and federal climate legislation officially dead, I had to dig pretty deep to find grounds for optimism. Here it is: The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is forging ahead with its plan to create a carbon trading program across seven states and four Canadian provinces. The cap, which will take effect in 2012, aims for a 15% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. The WCI’s economic modeling predicts net savings of $100 billion between 2012 and 2020 for participating states.
WCI member states in the US include Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Some of these states, especially Montana, are pretty major coal producers. It’s encouraging (here comes the optimistic part) to see states like Montana take leadership while their counterparts in Appalachia remain beholden to the coal lobby.
Climate activists hope that a cap and trade system among northeastern states will materialize and that the two programs will link, creating a huge system that will dominate the US economy and, potentially, force Congress to take action. In the meantime, WCI mandates certainly bode well for the solar industry–as sunny southwestern states look for ways to curb their emissions, we’ll be awaiting their call.