Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia — the heart of an eco-friendly region that’s frequently dubbed Cascadia — consider themselves a global leader on climate action.

The three governments set some of North America’s first mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over a decade ago. And if any place on earth can show the world how to confront the climate crisis, it should be here. Cascadia’s abundant hydropower provides a head start toward living without fossil fuels, and the majority of voters in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon say they want to make that transition.

Yet Washington, B.C., and Oregon were not on track to meet their 2020 targets. In fact, until Covid hit last year, emissions were rising. Between 2013 and 2018, the most recent five-year period for which Cascadia’s governments have completed counts, emissions rose by about 5, 6, and 7 percent in Washington, Oregon, and B.C., respectively, according to a new analysis by InvestigateWest.

Despite the dithering, Cascadia does have the solutions to climate change within its reach. The example set in California and modeling by Cascadia’s own planners show that renewable energy, electric vehicles, and other solutions exist to get Cascadia off fossil fuels, slashing the carbon dioxide created by burning fossil gas, oil, and coal, and the methane from leaked gas. In other words, Cascadia has the technology required to decarbonize.

Holding Earth’s warming to levels that avoid the worst effects of climate change demands faster reductions here, and everywhere. Global climate experts say that means halving global emissions by 2030. That requires a six-fold speed-up in renewable energy growth, for example, and a 12-fold speedup in electric vehicle sales, according to the World Resources Institute.

So why is environmentally-conscious Cascadia stuck in first gear? The consensus answer from experts and activists interviewed by InvestigateWest: a shortage of political will.

Read the full article about climate targets in the Pacific Northwest by Peter Fairley at Grist.