Legislation to support the linkage of Washington’s cap-and-invest carbon market with those of California and Québec was signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee. Senate Bill 6058, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyễn (D-White Center), makes numerous technical changes to carbon markets to help align Washington’s market with those of California and Quebec, and is an important step forward for the cap-and-invest program created by 2021’s Climate Commitment Act.

Last week, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the California Air Resources Board, and the Gouvernement du Québec jointly announced their intention to pursue a joint carbon market, citing the shared common interest in reducing carbon pollution and the major benefits provided by a larger linked market with more participants. With a bigger and more stable market, it’s expected that Washington’s auction prices for carbon allowances would be significantly lower than at the 2023 auctions, with lower effects on gas and energy prices for consumers. An expanded market would also provide predictability and stability for businesses emitting carbon pollution participating in the auctions to incentivize long-term strategies to reduce emissions.

Recognizing the benefit of carbon market linkage to communities and businesses across Washington, SB 6058 was supported by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including environmental advocates, tribes, businesses, energy utilities, labor unions, and more.

“We all know Washington can’t stop climate change all on our own – working with other governments like this is how we take the next step forward in our work to reduce carbon pollution and support a green, sustainable economy,” said Nguyễn. “The Climate Commitment Act is providing tremendous benefits for the people of Washington – helping limit carbon pollution and enabling investments in energy efficiency, environmental protection, clean transportation, and so much more. Linkage will make the CCA even better, with a more predictable and stable market that’s better for everyone involved.”

While SB 6058 will take effect on June 6, it’s expected to take at least a year for linkage with California and Québec to be completed.