A Massachusetts delegation, organized by CABA, is attending the COP23 UN Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany. The following piece is the second in our series on the climate conference.
Updates from COP23 Pt. 3: Climate Roadmap: California
In the world of environmental legislation, California has consistently positioned itself as the leader of the pack. Whether it’s the state’s electric vehicle incentives or its cap and trade scheme and price on carbon, California consistently sets a high bar for what other states can do to mitigate the impacts of climate change. While the Commonwealth has shown leadership in emission reductions, even sharing the title of most energy efficient in the nation with California, we can learn a great deal from their actions and boldness in the face of faltering climate leadership in Washington.
Creating a dialogue between Massachusetts and California was State Representatives Jim Cantwell and Josh Cutler’s first priority when they arrived in Bonn to take part in COP23. In the brand new Climate Action Center sponsored by the USA’s “We Are Still In” movement, we heard about the carbon market’s positive impacts on California’s economy, workers, and environment. With their GDP rising at a healthy rate, per capita emissions falling steadily, $4 Billion raised for the state Greenhouse Gas Fund, 500,000 green jobs created, and a 110% increase in renewables since cap and trade was passed in 2006, it’s hard to argue with the results. California has even begun considering linking its carbon market with Québec, Ontario, and further down the road, the EU: a partnership that could begin to look like a global carbon market.
California Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia discussed how low-income communities have benefited from intentional reinvestment of carbon revenue along with additional strong clean air regulations. The state has also been able to retrofit their fleet of busses and trucks along with increasing rebates for electric cars, both to improve air quality standards and further lower emissions. In the future, the state plans to invest in public transportation and the long discussed bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
In a bilateral meeting with Senator Lara, the discussion moved to California’s decision to extend cap and trade to 2030— a decision supported by state democrats, republicans, businesses, and oil companies alike. “Bringing the oil companies to the table shows investors that this policy will last,” Lara said. It’s a position not popular with environmental activist groups but necessary in getting a deal done, Lara explained.
Reflecting on future action in Massachusetts, both Representatives James Cantwell and Josh Cutler took away valuable information from the discussions. “Being able to talk and compare notes with elected officials from other states is invaluable. It was great to learn more about cap and trade and how it spreads across all sectors in a state with a powerhouse economy, similar to Massachusetts,” Rep. Cutler said. When discussing how we can implement similar climate policy he stressed the importance for the “public to be with us when we make those decisions.”
Rep. Cantwell struck a similar tone. “It’s pretty clear that leading states can set objectives,” Rep. Cantwell added, “not just for themselves, but for the country as a whole.” “It was exciting to meet leaders from other states to demonstrate what we’re doing in the Commonwealth, and to learn how we can improve legislation to meet our carbon emissions goals. Carbon emissions policies have demonstrated that they are good for business, good for job creation and wages, and overall, a benefit to the economy.”
The Climate Action Business Association will be providing updates daily during COP23 in Bonn, Germany. This year’s delegation is spearheaded by Executive Director, Michael Green and consists of policy makers from the Massachusetts State House. Representative Jim Cantwell, Representative Josh Cutler, Representative Jen Benson and Senator Michael Barrett will be joining Mr. Green at the climate talks. The delegation is supported by staff from Northeastern University. Follow CABA News and social media for the latest news and updates.