Here’s a very draft backdrop/storyline that is intended to help make the case for a 2014 campaign for carbon pricing in the Pacific Northwest. Comments welcome!
By 2014, the economy will have made progress on the long, slow recovery from the financial crisis. The unemployment rate will still be high but will be less than 6.5% and will have fallen by about 1 percentage point per year. As a result the news media will be looking for other stories, and—after an extended period without much media attention—climate change will be back with a vengeance thanks to the first volume of the new IPCC report (AR5), due in September 2013 (with additional volumes in March, April, and October 2014). In other climate science developments, ENSO conditions are likely to change from the La Nina patterns that lowered global temperatures in 2010 and 2011; wild cards include the mountain pine beetle outbreak in Washington State (story, video), the Texas drought, and other climate and weather phenomena. Meanwhile, global emissions will continue to increase, thanks mostly to continued rapid growth in developing countries. On the political front, international negotiations will continue at a snail’s pace. The national political scene will remain polarized, with no progress on the climate front regardless of the winner of the 2012 Presidential election. The 2012 governor’s election in Washington State (Democrat Jay Inslee versus Republican Rob McKenna) could have more bearing, and in Oregon there will be a governor’s race in 2014. And the world-leading British Columbia carbon tax will be celebrating the 6th year since its creation and the 2nd year since reaching its maximum tax rate of $30/tonne CO2 (about $0.30/gallon gasoline, $0.03/kWh of coal-fired power). All together this makes for a strong case for a bipartisan effort to raise the profile of the BC carbon tax and push for similar policies in Pacific Northwest.