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Climate change seems far too vast a subject to engage state and local actors in any significant way. Global warming and greenhouse gas control, sea level alterations and polar ice melts—as a practical matter, all these climate-related issues have international repercussions on a scale that state and local actors seldom address. As a legal matter, there are other impediments: the Constitution charges the federal government, rather than the states and localities, with managing our relations with other countries. No doubt this pattern exists because in international matters, the federal government is expected to present a unified national position, unimpeded by the fragmentation that would arise from provincial state and local interference. Nevertheless, in the current absence of the federal government's participation in international climate change efforts, states and local governments have begun to fill the void.
The pieces in this Symposium examine these efforts by states and local actors. While the authors address diverse issues and take widely differing approaches, many touch on three common themes, and it is upon those themes that I wish to dwell briefly in this Introduction.
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