When it comes to reducing carbon emissions in the effort to thwart climate change and global warming, we have always been fond of talk and posturing. We are good at it.
There was more pointing with pride last week as the governors of California, Oregon, Washington and the environmental minister of British Columbia signed a kind of international agreement, a joint statement of good intentions called the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy. It has been widely hailed as a bold and decisive document by people prone to hailing such things. It begins with a series of platitudes about linking policy and science and supporting research and international cooperation. It goes on to commit Washington to some serious policy changes, like adopting California-style low-carbon fuel standards, to “catalyze” electric car sales to make them 10 percent of new vehicle purchases in just three years, expand support for biofuels and natural gas for transportation, “scale up” wind, solar and other renewable power, and more and more. It also says “Washington will set binding limits on carbon emissions and deploy market mechanisms to meet those limits,” presumably like California and British Columbia do. It sounds like a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax, a major step either way.