Washington State outlines plans for carbon trading

Governor Jay Inslee prepares second attempt at developing cap and trade scheme in north west state

By Ed King

Washington appears to be the latest US state considering tightening its climate laws, with plans for a cap and trade system released on Monday.

A memorandum posted on Governor Jay Inslee’s website says design options on a carbon trading scheme will be presented by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) later today.

“Building on the presentations provided at the last meeting by California and British Columbia carbon emission reduction program representatives, the contractor team will present information on design options of a cap and trade system and a carbon tax system with initial tailoring for Washington State,” it says.

The document suggests the northwest US state could link up with the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) trading scheme, which involves California together with the Canadian states of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

“By joining with other jurisdictions, and harmonizing design features, Washington would better support similar industries facing similar carbon costs and incentives,” it says.

According to local media, this is Democrat Governor Inslee’s second attempt to develop a state level trading scheme.

A previous effort in 2013 was “deadlocked” after Republican and Democrat legislators tasked with enforcing carbon emissions reduction targets failed to agree on a way forward.

The state’s current climate legislation targets a return to 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020, with a 25% cut on 1990 levels by 2035.

The state has also established a green employment initiative, aiming for jobs in the low carbon sector to rise from 8,400 in 2004 to 25,000 in 2020.

Washington leads the US in sourcing electricity from renewable resources, producing 29% of the country’s net hydroelectricity generation in 2013.

Ranking 10th in US wind energy generation, coal represents a small part of the overall electricity mix.

According to the US Energy Information Agency, geothermal sources in its volcanic Cascade Range could “produce about 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year”, enough to power 265,000 US homes.

Last year Washington State and the UK government signed a deal allowing for closer collaboration in developing low carbon technologies.

The agreement committed the UK to sharing knowledge from Europe’s emissions trading scheme, and exploring how this could link with other markets around the world.

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