A coalition of West Coast states and British Columbia have pledged to work together as a region to tackle climate change and accelerate the transition to clean energy.
The governors of California, Oregon, Washington and the premier of British Columbia met in San Francisco on Thursday to sign an agreement to decarbonize the electricity grid, accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and make their communities more resilient to climate disasters, including drought, forest, sea. – rise in temperature and extreme heat.
“We’re proving that regional cooperation makes a difference,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday. “We are proving that we are much stronger and more effective than working together.”
California and other states have taken steps to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and passed millions in funding to accelerate the transition to clean energy. Washington state lawmakers have also approved a package to decarbonize the state’s transportation sector that will add thousands of new EV charging stations and transition ferries to hybrid-electric.
Those actions and Thursday’s agreement come as western North America grapples with some of the most intense and long-lasting impacts of the climate crisis.
In September, a heat wave unprecedented for its extreme temperature and duration was established in the region. California Governor Gavin Newsom said the September heat wave was “a 10-day heat dome that we couldn’t even imagine.”
It comes as California ends its third straight year of severe drought as major reservoir levels are falling. Western states – including California – are negotiating an agreement to cut a significant amount of water use from the Colorado River to save the river basin from becoming a crisis.
“Is that the exception or the new normal?” Newsom said of California’s drought. “Lake Mead, Powell – all of us fighting each other with what we’re going to do with the Colorado River alone.”
The human-caused climate crisis is increasing extreme weather in the West, climate experts told CNN, making extreme heat and drought more intense and more frequent.
Thursday’s declaration of cooperation calls for states to follow seven guiding principles. These include ensuring that the transition to clean energy is fair and does not leave communities behind, ensuring that buildings are resilient to climate disasters, reducing the cost of energy, engaging with local tribes and indigenous peoples, and using natural resources and land to store carbon.
The statement also promises to serve as a model for other regions to “showcase how the West Coast is building a prosperous low-carbon and climate-resilient economy of the future.”
Newsom said regional leaders want to demonstrate they are at the forefront of the clean energy transition and are fully embracing electric vehicles and other new technologies.
“It’s offense on the West Coast, not defense,” Newsom said. “We are showing how it can be done. This is not about electrical energy; this is about economic power. This is to dominate the next big global industry.”