Climate Commitment Act

In 2021, the Washington Legislature passed the Climate Commitment Act (or CCA) which establishes a comprehensive program to reduce carbon pollution and achieve the greenhouse gas limits set in state law. The program will start Jan. 1, 2023.

How the CCA will reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Climate Commitment Act caps and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s largest emitting sources and industries, allowing businesses to find the most efficient path to lower carbon emissions. This puts Washington on a path to meet the greenhouse gas emission limits set in state law.

The CCA also puts environmental justice and equity at the center of climate policy, ensuring that communities that bear the greatest burdens from air pollution today see cleaner, healthier air as the state cuts greenhouse gases. Finally, funds from the auction of emission allowances will support new investments in climate resiliency programs, clean transportation, and addressing health disparities across the state. 

The Cap-and-Invest Program

In the CCA, the Legislature directs Ecology to develop rules to implement a cap on carbon emissions, including mechanisms for the sale and tracking of tradable emissions allowances, along with compliance and accountability measures. We are also required to design the rules to allow for linkage of the program with similar programs in other jurisdictions. 

Establishing an emissions cap

  • We will create a cap-and-invest program starting Jan. 1, 2023, by setting emissions allowance budgets that meet the greenhouse gas limits in RCW 70A.45.020.
  • Starting on Jan. 1, 2023, the cap-and-invest program will cover industrial facilities, certain fuel suppliers, in-state electricity generators, electricity importers, and natural gas distributors with annual greenhouse gas emissions above 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
  • On Jan. 1, 2027, the program adds waste-to-energy facilities.
  • On Jan. 1, 2031, the program adds certain landfills and railroad companies. 

Allowances

  • Covered entities must either reduce their emissions, or obtain allowances to cover any remaining emissions.
  • The total number of allowances will decrease over time to meet statutory limits.
  • Some utilities and industries will be issued free allowances; other allowances will be auctioned.

Offsets

  • A portion of a facility’s compliance obligation can come from credits generated by projects that prevent greenhouse gas emissions, called offset projects. Covered entities can meet up to 5% of their obligations with offsets through 2026, and 4% from 2027 to 2030. 
  • An additional 3% of a facility’s compliance obligation through 2026 can be met through offset projects on Tribal lands, decreasing to 2% from 2027 to 2030. 
  • Offset projects must result in greenhouse gas reductions that are real, permanent, quantifiable, verifiable, and enforceable.

Promotes environmental justice and equity

The Climate Commitment Act aligns with the requirements of the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act and includes provisions to promote environmental justice and equity, including:

Generates revenue for tackling climate change and promoting resilience 

Proceeds from the auction of allowances must be used for clean energy transition and assistance, clean transportation, and climate resiliency projects that promote climate justice, including dedicating a minimum of 35% of funds toward overburdened communities and a minimum of 10% toward tribal projects.

Proposed rulemaking timeline

We are working on three separate rulemakings to implement the Climate Commitment Act. To stay informed about each rulemaking, sign up for email updates. See the proposed timeline for these rulemakings.

Rulemaking Announce rule Propose rule Adopt rule

Cap-and-invest program rules
(Chapter 173-446 WAC)

August 4, 2021 Spring 2022 Fall 2022
Criteria for emissions-intensive
trade-exposed industries
(Chapter 173-446A WAC)
August 4, 2021 Winter 2021 Summer 2022
Reporting emissions of greenhouse gases
(Chapter 173-441 WAC)
July 7, 2021 Fall 2021 Early 2022

 

Understanding Washington's climate policies

In November 2021, we held two online educational sessions about the Climate Commitment Act, the Clean Fuel Standard, and Washington's other climate policies.