Western Climate Initiative Officials Testify to Legislative Committee

Published Thursday, September 27, 2018 1:00 pm

Discussions in Oregon about carbon reduction, particularly cap-and-trade programs, often lead to the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction went straight to the source for information, hearing testimony from representatives of the WCI and the government of Québec at the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction.

Elizabeth MacKay, a representative of Québec based in Los Angeles, testified in person while two other Québec officials and WCI Executive Director Greg Tamblyn participated via conference call.

Highlights of the testimony included:

The Québec officials emphasized the importance of linkage with other states and provinces to create a cap-and-trade market. Québec, which is larger in size and population than Oregon, “is not big enough to maintain a carbon market on our own,” said Jean-Yves Benoit, an official with the Carbon Market Division of the Québec ministry that oversees sustainable development, environment and climate change.
WCI provides a common set of rules that can help create an equal partnership among different size economies.
The officials acknowledged that while reducing greenhouse gases, not raising revenue, is the goal of the program, investing money generated from cap-and-trade into clean energy and carbon-reduction programs is an essential part of meeting carbon-reduction goals.
It’s important to understand the markets you are linking with before entering into agreements, the officials said.

In response to a question from Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) about what Oregon perhaps should consider or be concerned about that wasn’t in the Québec officials’ “rosy report,” Benoit said it was necessary to design programs to help maintain competitiveness and to allow industries and businesses to invest in clean technologies. Benoit mentioned the implementation of a cap-and-trade program required Québec to invest $2 billion dollars into the transportation sector from 2013-18 to change behaviors and increase use of electric vehicles.

Overall, the presentation demonstrated that Québec has had to balance an assortment of tradeoffs to create its cap-and-trade program. And while officials expressed satisfaction with results and optimism about meeting future goals, carbon-reduction results so far are below the projected pace.

To read a previous article on the conceptual underpinnings of Oregon carbon polices and the WCI, click here.

To see slides from Tuesday’s presentation on how WCI operates, click here.

To see slides on the cap-and-trade program that links Québec and California, click here.