California, Quebec, Washington Take Joint Step Toward Linking Carbon Markets, Scaling up Climate Action

EDF statement from Katelyn Roedner Sutter, California Director

March 20, 2024
Chandler Green, (803) 981-2211,
Anthony Matthews, (202) 297-3830,

(SACRAMENTO — March 20, 2024) Today, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on behalf of the state of California, the Government of Quebec, and the Department of Ecology representing the state of Washington issued a joint statement expressing their shared interest in the potential creation of a linked carbon market among the three jurisdictions. This is an important step toward formally linking carbon markets, which could result in a jointly operated system in which all participating jurisdictions pool their emission allowances and conduct shared auctions. California and Quebec have been successfully operating a joint carbon market, the Western Climate Initiative, for 10 years.

“Linking California’s, Quebec’s and Washington’s carbon markets would enable deeper and faster cuts in climate pollution while creating a more stable, predictable market for all,” said Katelyn Roedner Sutter, California Director at Environmental Defense Fund. “Three major climate leaders joining forces would create a huge momentum boost for climate action.

“Climate change impacts do not stop at borders. As we confront more and more damaging consequences from climate change, it’s imperative that state and sub-national leaders work together on bold solutions. California and Quebec’s decade-long carbon market has proven that collaboration can accelerate cuts in climate pollution and drive up clean energy investment. With the emission cap in this joint carbon market as a backstop, California has seen its emissions fall in nearly every economic sector and delivered over $9 billion in investments for communities around the state.

“Cap-and-trade has long been the backbone of California’s suite of climate policies, and the state has a history of sharing its policy innovations beyond its borders for greater impact. This step from California, Quebec and Washington is once again showcasing the value of working together and setting an example for other states. These leaders’ commitment to ensuring a just and equitable energy transition that benefits communities bearing the greatest pollution burdens is essential — and it must be a priority as they move forward with any program adjustments or updates to regulations in each jurisdiction.”

Next steps

  • Washington’s legislature recently passed a bill that makes small changes to the state’s cap-and-invest program to more closely align it with California and Quebec’s systems. Governor Inslee, who championed the state’s cap-and-invest law when it passed in 2021, is expected to sign the bill later this month.
  • California and Quebec each have their own processes for formally deciding to pursue linkage, and if an agreement is reached to link, then each jurisdiction would update their regulations accordingly. In a linked market, all three jurisdictions would retain authority over their own programs, but would host joint auctions and share the same allowance price.  


If you'd like to learn more, read our blogs on the benefits of linking carbon markets and how to align California-Quebec's carbon market with Washington's market.

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