This May, the Governments of California, British Colombia, Oregon, and Washington met in San Francisco to sign the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy for their combined population of 53 million. It acknowledges, “the clear and convincing scientific evidence of climate change, ocean acidification and other impacts which threaten the west coast people, economy, and natural resources.”

While celebrating that these four governments have already reduced greenhouse gas emissions by “adopting regulatory, policy and market-based measures that shift energy generation to clean and renewable sources, managing energy use through greater efficiency and conservation, and enabling and promoting consumer choice for clean vehicles,” these same governments agree that they can do more together. The document is a welcome example of what governments can do when they accept the reality of climate change and get to work in earnest.

Read the complete preamble here.

The agreement spells out five actions to lead national and international policy on climate change:
1) Account for the costs of carbon pollution in each jurisdiction.
2) Harmonize 2050 targets for greenhouse gas reductions and develop mid-term targets needed to support long-term reduction goals.
3) Affirm the need to inform policy with findings from climate science.
4) Cooperate with national and sub-national governments around the world to press for an international agreement on climate change in 2015.
5) Enlist support for research on ocean acidification and take action to combat it.

To transition the West Coast to clean modes of transportation and reduce the large share of greenhouse gas emissions from this sector , these governments agreed to:
1) Adopt and maintain low-carbon fuel standards in each jurisdiction.
2) Take actions to expand the use of zero-emission vehicles, aiming for 10 percent of new vehicle purchases in public and private fleets by 2016.
3) Continue deployment of high-speed rail across the region.
4) Support emerging markets and innovation for alternative fuels in commercial trucks, buses, rail, ports and marine transportation.

To invest in clean energy and climate-resilient infrastructure, the governments agreed to:
1) Transform the market for energy efficiency and lead the way to “net-zero” buildings.
2) Support strong federal policy on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
3) Make infrastructure climate-smart and investment-ready.
4) Streamline permitting of renewable energy infrastructure.
5) Support integration of the region’s electricity grids.

When governments take climate change seriously, there is much that can be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically in transportation and built energy as well as press for more international action. While legislators in Washington DC seem paralyzed, Governors Brown, Kitzhaber, and Inslee and Premier Clark have demonstrated much-needed leadership.