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Executive Summary

Global climate change is not simply an environmental issue. It is a phenomenon that transcends traditional boundaries, sectors, and scales. Climate change impacts cannot be mitigated unilaterally. In order to truly manage this challenge, effective policies must be developed at the local, state, national, and international levels. Policymakers must also tailor their tactics and messages to engage constituents, communities, and corporations in their climate change mitigation efforts.

In the United States, governors have recognized the potential consequences of global climate change and are playing a leading role in addressing the issue. Researchers predict that climate change will have a range of impacts across the United States, with consequences for human health, energy and food security, real estate values, agricultural outputs, and local and regional economic systems. More than half of the U.S. states have begun taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Innovative state policies aimed at reducing these emissions present unique opportunities to capitalize on energy efficiency measures, transportation and land use planning, and natural resource management. In addition, state-level action on climate change has the potential to influence community-level decisions and to inform federal-level policies.

This website highlights a selection of state-level “best practices” across a range of policy areas, including energy production and efficiency, transportation planning, private sector involvement, and encouragement of “clean” economic development. It also describes a number of broad initiatives, such as regional cooperation and cap-and-trade emissions trading programs, in which states are currently engaged. The website reviews metrics that can be used to gauge state-level climate change performance and to help identify policy options. Finally, because communicating the urgency of climate change mitigation to constituents and industries is of utmost importance, there is also a discussion of effective climate change messaging strategies.

This website is intended to highlight the strength and flexibility of states in implementing action on climate change across sectors and scales. It offers state-level policymakers ideas for drafting regulations aimed at curbing global climate change. The synopses of policies and metrics should be viewed as jumping-off points for planning and tracking progress in a number of areas, including energy efficiency, climate change resiliency of local businesses and industries, inter-state cooperation in exchanging information on mitigation and adaptation, and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.