In spite -- or because -- of federal inaction on climate change, dozens of cities and states are taking their own actions on reducing greenhouse gases.
"The movement began nearly two years ago, when Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels announced that his city would strive to meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that aims to control global warming.
The 70 cities that reported statistics last year reduced carbon dioxide emissions by an aggregate total of 23 million tons. That's not a huge sum considering that the U.S. would have to eliminate more than 1.6 billion tons to meet the Kyoto targets.
But those working on the issue expect the numbers to pick up dramatically in the coming years. More than 100 mayors have found the reforms so painless that they've set far more ambitious targets than those laid out in Kyoto, according to Michelle Wyman, executive director of ICLEI, a nonprofit working with local governments on climate change.
Governors, too, are joining the effort. At least 20 states, including California, have laws requiring a certain percentage of electrical power to come from solar, wind and other renewable sources. Just last week, former Vice President Al Gore announced a grass-roots campaign to encourage communities to hold emissions of greenhouse gases at their current levels rather than let them rise year after year as energy consumption increases.
'All these cities are like little laboratories, experimenting with what works. Then we learn from each other,' [Indianapolis Mayor James Brainard says]."