West Coast governors, British Columbia premier ink climate agreement

West Coast leaders struck a new climate deal Thursday, pledging to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy – a move leaders say will boost the region’s economic power.

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington and the premier of British Columbia met in San Francisco Thursday to sign a Statement of Cooperation. The deal lists commitments to quickly transition to a low-carbon economy, speed the creation of a regional zero-carbon electricity grid and build electric vehicle charging infrastructure, among other plans. The new agreement updates a compact signed by leaders of the same regions in 2016.

Officials emphasized that the West Coast has not been spared from the increasingly catastrophic impacts of climate change – more intense heat, prolonged droughts and devastating fire seasons. British Columbia Premier John Horgan shared that a community called Lytton was wiped off the map by wildfires in his province, and Gov. Gavin Newsom noted that three California towns – Paradise, Grizzly Flats and Greenville – faced the same fate.

Officials said the compact emphasizes their commitment to the future and their nation-leading strides in developing a “clean energy economy.”

“This is not just a commitment to our children and our grandchildren – it is the best economic development strategy on the earth today,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday. “We understand the best economic prospects is to build a clean energy economy – to put people to work building silicon anode batteries in Moses Lake, to put people to work in solar cells in Bellingham and California and British Columbia. We’re building jobs. That’s why we’re leading in the Pacific Coast.”

Newsom doubled down on Inslee’s comments, saying that reaching the region’s climate goals is “not just about electric power – this is about economic power.”

“This is about dominating the next big global industry,” Newsom said.

The agreement signing comes a few months after California announced all vehicles sold in the Golden State must be zero-emission by 2035. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday that her state would follow in California’s footprints, and Washington announced in August that it would do the same.

Newsom also signed a package of climate bills last month that he touted as a historic investment in the state’s future. The package included a measure establishing targets to achieve California’s 100% clean energy policy by 2045.

The agreement signed by West Coast leaders on Thursday has no “legally binding obligation” attached but outlines regional goals for climate action.

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