Metro Washington was the first region in the country to adopt a region-wide plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. RF included these target emissions cuts from the National Capital Region Climate Change Report – a reduction of 10 percent below forecast levels by 2012 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 – into its sustainability targets.
Massachusetts has recently announced a limit on GHG emissions aimed at a 25% reduction compared to 1990 levels by 2020. Several Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. states and Canadian provinces have created the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative a regional cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing GHG emissions. Similarly several Western U.S. states Canadian provinces and Mexican states created the Western Climate Initiative to “reduce regional GHG emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and spur investment in and development of clean-energy technologies create green jobs and protect public health.”
There are many other examples of state and regional-led efforts aimed at reducing GHG in the U.S. and around the world. As action on climate and energy at the federal level languishes local leaders are taking action. The question remains: are piecemeal regional approaches sufficient for the significant emissions cuts that must be made to avoid the worse effects of climate change?