Communities can take local initiative with sustainable living, but attaining effects at a national scale requires greater coordination.
Green Plans, said Johnson, are government-run environmental programs that rise to the scale and longevity of environmental problems. Instead of acting piecemeal, they are comprehensive, systemic, integrated, and accountable. Instead of pursuing an energy policy, an air policy, and a water policy separately, you have to have one policy that covers them all.
He singled out three shining examples of how to make Green Plans work—Holland, New Zealand, and California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).
In 1988 Queen Beatrix used her Christmas speech to tell the people of the Netherlands that “the earth is slowly dying,” and the nation would disappear back under the sea if it did not solve its own environmental problems and inspire the rest of the world to do the same. [….] The Dutch comprehensive Green Plan basically rewrote the nation’s social contract. [….]
New Zealand in 1987 began … the Resource Management Act, which became law in 1991. [….] The governance principle is “devolution,” meaning that most of the action covered by the Act takes place in regional, district, and city councils.
California’s famous AB 32 is our most important legislation in a century, said Johnson. [….] The state is coordinating with six other western state and three provinces in Canada under what is called the Western Climate Initiative.
In the Q&A Johnson was asked what single action would do the most to improve environmental responsibility from the federal government. “Campaign finance reform,” he said. The corruption of elected officials by special interest campaign donations makes them beholden to the wrong people for the wrong goals. [….]