Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Lessons from the U.S., China, and Japan

50 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2021 Last revised: 27 Mar 2021

See all articles by Daniel A. Farber

Daniel A. Farber

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: February 24, 2021


State and local climate action has played a key role in the global response to climate change. Still, not all jurisdictions are engaged in emissions reductions, and some are actively recalcitrant. What prompts some state and local governments to take action while prompting others to resist?

This Article makes several contributions to understanding state and local climate policies. First, prior efforts have generally had a U.S. focus. We broaden the inquiry to include the two leading Asian economies. Second, we make use of a fifty-state survey of recent state climate and energy initiatives in the United States rather than focusing on a few prominent jurisdictions like California. Third, rather than focusing solely on activist jurisdictions, we discuss the full range of stances on energy policy, from the leadership of states like California in the United States and cities like Shenzhen in China to the resistance of some rural areas of the United States, China, and Japan to climate action. We identify important economic, demographic, and geographic drivers of climate and energy policies in these diverse jurisdictions. Finally, we propose a new way of conceptualizing subnational climate action based on the peer production model used in the creation of important digital resources.

Keywords: climate change, environmental law, Chinese law, Japanese law, federalism, energy law

Suggested Citation

Farber, Daniel A., Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Lessons from the U.S., China, and Japan (February 24, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel A. Farber (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

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