Confronting climate change - which most scientists now say is
real - is a worldwide effort. That's why it's called "global
But as nations continue to argue over the Kyoto agreement and
other multinational approaches, and as Congress considers an energy
billthat would expand fossil-fuel production, state governments are
taking the lead in reducing the greenhouse gases that seem to be
sending temperatures upward.
Ten states are about to sue the administration to force the EPA
to regulate greenhouse gases. Fourteen states, including President
Bush's home state of Texas, now require utilities to generate part
of their power from renewable sources.
One region - the Northeast - is following its own Kyoto-like
path. New England states and five eastern Canadian provinces have
set goals to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2010, then
reduce them another 10 percent by 2017.
Similarly, governors on the West Coast recently announced a joint
strategy to reduce global warming. Included in this effort: using
their combined purchasing power to buy fuel-efficient vehicles for
official use; developing uniform appliance-efficiency standards;
collaborating to measure and report greenhouse-gas emissions;
reducing the use of diesel generators on ships in California,
Oregon, and Washington State ports.
It's not just a matter of wanting to enjoy a clearer view of the
region's spectacular mountains and coastlines.
"This is a matter of economic necessity," says Oregon Gov. Ted
Kulongoski (D). "Global warming is a real phenomenon, which affects
us in many ways, from increasingly costly forest fires to
Barry Rabe, who teaches environmental policy and political
science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, finds that "the
current level of state activity surrounding the issue of climate
change is striking."
The climate of change
In a study of state programs for the Pew Center on Global Climate
Change, Dr. Rabe found a variety of initiatives around the country -
many of them far in advance of what the federal government is doing.
"Measures that have proven controversial at the federal level,
such as renewable portfolio standards and mandatory reporting of
greenhouse-gas emissions, have been implemented at the state level,
often with little dissent," he says.
For example, says Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew center
and former assistant secretary of state in charge of environmental
and scientific affairs, Texas and 13 other states now require
utilities to generate a specified share of their power from
"Three [states] have established reporting programs for
greenhouse-gas emissions, and two of these are mandatory programs,"