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A regional cap-and-trade initiative could falter if Californians approve a proposition that would stall the state’s landmark climate-change legislation.
The Western Climate Initiative is a coalition of western states and Canadian provinces that have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially – to 15 percent below 2005 levels – by 2020. The coalition is also planning to launch a cap-and-trade carbon market in 2012.
California is the largest partner economy in the initiative, which also includes New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Utah, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
"Losing California would be a major blow to the WCI and possibly to carbon trading systems elsewhere in North America … and quite possibly to the developing international carbon market," Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller's office warned in a blog post this week.
Western Climate InitiativeCalifornia has the largest economy among the Western Climate Initiative partners (in green).
On Nov. 2, Californians will vote on Proposition 23, the measure to suspend California’s climate legislation until unemployment levels fall below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters, something that has only happened three times in the past 30 years.
Observers don’t think the regional effort will collapse without California, but the state’s absence would diminish its political strength considerably.
In an interview with Reuters last week, Delphi Group CEO Mike Gerbis, who helps Canadian companies develop environmental strategies, said: "It certainly will be more challenging, but I think they will move forward. … It's always more challenging when there are fewer of you."