My friend Brendan is an expert on state and provincial government in the U.S. and Canada, respectively. For a few years now, he has been researching the ways that state and provincial leaders address climate change.
Some of his findings are encouraging and a bit surprising. One reason that so many environmental problems are regulated at the Federal level in the United States is that individual states were once very reluctant to restrict activities that other states did not. Federal regulations on waste disposal, for example, ensure that a U.S. company cannot save money by shopping around for a state with a lighter regulatory burden. This has been one factor, by the way, in the flight of many U.S. firms abroad.
With current efforts to address climate change, though, things are different. State governments -- and even many municipal governments -- are concluding that climate change poses a serious enough threat locally that local measures should be taken instead of waiting on national governments. As the U.S. video below indicates, state- and provincial-level leaders from across the political spectrum are no longer willing to wait on national governments.
As an environmental geographer, I must admit to being rather surpised by the bold moves states and provinces, cities and towns are making. It takes quite a bit of courage to enact local regulations on climate change, since the regulations will only have a climate benefit if many other localities join the effort.
The British Columbia Climate Action Plan comes highly recommended, not only because it is a bold step in the right direction, but also because the plan's documents very clearly describe the expected threats to the local environment, should the status quo be allowed to prevail.
My climate change page provides more on the subject, including the basic science of climate change.