Frustrated by federal inaction on preventing climate change, states and municipalities have begun reducing greenhouse gas emissions on their own. In fact, their influence could be greater than that of many countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement that set reductions of carbon emissions but that the U.S. has refused to ratify. In the process, the local-area policies are serving as incubators for new proce- dures and technologies that will be important to a coordinated national effort.
"There's been a remarkable turn of events in the past two to four years," observes Susan Tierney of Lexecon, an economics consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., and past assistant secretary for policy in the U.S. Department of Energy. Traditional first actors on air-quality issues, such as California, New Jersey and the New England states, have initiated programs to reduce emissions. States are motivated not only by the danger of climate change but by the hope of cleaner air, cost savings from energy efficiency, and marketing opportunities for renewable energy.
This article was originally published with the title Acting Locally.