The West Coast unites on climate change

October 29, 2013

(Martin Meissner/2009 AP file photo)

Three West Coast governors and a Canadian counterpart are uniting against climate change.

The top government executives of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia signed an agreement on Monday to coordinate policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and promoting clean energy, according to a statement.

The nonbinding agreement serves as an affirmation of “our shared vision of Pacific North America as a model of innovation,” the governors and Canadian premier said in the pact.

Each region will seek to account for the local cost of carbon pollution and set 2050 targets for reducing greenhouse gases. They also set a goal of having zero-emission vehicles account for one-tenth of new vehicle purchases by 2016.

Reducing air pollution can have far-reaching benefits. If California had met federal air pollution standards from 2005 to 2007, the state would have seen millions in savings and fewer hospital admissions, according to an August analysis by the nonprofit global policy think tank the RAND Corporation.

“Nearly 30,000 hospital admissions and ER visits could have been avoided over the two-year period, with resulting savings of about $193 million,” RAND reported. “Because public insurers such as Medicare and Medi-Cal paid most of the pollution-related health care bill, they have a lot to gain from cleaner air. But employers and private insurers also have sizable financial interest in reducing air pollution.”

The three states and Canadian province are home to 53 million people and a combined economic output of $2.8 trillion.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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