Has Cap & Invest Worked Elsewhere?

Yes! Cap & Invest is working in a variety of jurisdictions. In fact it’s because Cap & Invest works so well that it’s gaining traction globally. Washington will be following a proven path, learning from and improving upon the experience of others. 

A Cap & Invest system is one type of carbon pricing policy. This graphic from Sightline Institute details the various carbon pricing programs that have been implemented around the world:

In Europe, results from carbon tax and emission trading systems are significant: capped emissions from stationary sources declined 29% from 2005 to 2018 as the price of carbon emissions increased.

Here in the U.S. we see proof that Cap & Invest programs work. On the West Coast, only one jurisdiction has enacted Cap & Invest: California. How has California fared? Since introducing its program in 2012, California is the only Western state where greenhouse gas emissions are down. Its economy has also grown  faster than other west coast states. Gross State Product (GSP) per capita in CA was up over 20% from 2012-2018. Meanwhile, Washington state’s emissions grew 8% during that same period. 

Significantly, California’s program has generated over $13 billion of revenue to implement programs that further reduce emissions, improve health, and boost the state’s economy. To date, 55% of investments implemented have prioritized benefits for overburdened and disadvantaged populations.1

In nearly a dozen Eastern states2 that have introduced carbon pricing on power plant emissions, those emissions are down more than half since the start of the program in 2008 (90% faster than the rest of the country)  AND utility prices are down as well. (Ratepayer costs down 5.7%, other states up 8.6%, 2008-2018.)3  At the same time, their economy is outperforming the rest of the country.

With the Cap-and-Invest Climate Commitment Act (SB 5126), Washington has an opportunity to build on the success of other programs, with confidence that greenhouse gas emissions will drop while our economy grows. We can accelerate public and private investments in clean energy, green transportation and jobs-generating infrastructure.


[1] Source: http://www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov/cci-data-dashboard

[2] Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

[3] Acadia Center (2019). The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Ten Years in Review

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