Western Climate Initiative

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) was formed in 2007 when the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington agreed to evaluate and implement ways to reduce their states’s emissions of greenhouse gases and achieve related co-benefits. By July 2008, the initiative had expanded to include two more U.S. states (Montana and Utah) and four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec). Although WCI has no regulatory authority of its own, by 2011, California and Quebec adopted regulations based on WCI recommendations. The WCI’s goal was to reduce emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, with a regional cap and trade program as the centerpiece. Unlike the northeastern states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), whose cap and trade scheme is limited to emissions from power plants, the WCI’s was intended to be economy-wide.

Although due to economic and political challenges the WCI membership is now limited to California and the Canadian provinces implementation of various cap programs remains in progress in other partner and observed states, and several WCI partners also remain active in the International Carbon Action Partnership, an international coordinating body for several such regional carbon trading bodies. Despite delays in recommended cap-and-trade implementation, as WCI reports, their partners comprise 20 percent of U.S. GDP and 76 percent of Canadian GDP, sending a strong regional policy signal supporting lower carbon investment principles and opportunities.

Key administrative aspects of the regional cap-and-trade program continue to be implemented through the Western Climate Initiative, Inc. (WCI, Inc.), a non-profit corporation, provides administrative and technical services including compliance tracking, administering auctions, and conducting market monitoring to support the implementation of state and provincial greenhouse gas emissions trading programs.

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