Leading From Between

How California and Germany Can Fix the Climate Agenda

A coal power station in eastern Germany, December 2, 2009. Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters

For the last two decades, climate talks, and their top-down multinational approaches, have largely failed to curb rising temperatures. Since then, a number of subnational actors (provinces, cities, businesses, and civil society organizations, among others) have sought to tackle climate change from the bottom up. For example, at a summit in New York last year, various subnational associations pledged to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Around 75 mayors from around the world, recognizing that cities account for some 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, signed a Mayors Compact to accelerate ongoing efforts to shrink their carbon footprint. And major civil society organizations and businesses also signed various pledges on a range of initiatives, from expanding energy efficiency to halting deforestation.

California is a leader when it comes to electric cars. The futuristic Aptera sports an aerodynamic design and a 100 miles per gallon range, February 13, 2009. Mike Blake / Reuters
These initiatives

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