With Congress being Congress, there was little hope in 2011 for any national action on climate change or clean energy and not much hope for next year. That put responsibility on the shoulders of state and local governments. The good news is that many of them were ready for action. California which by itself would be the world's eighth biggest economy enacted an ambitious cap-and-trade program that will mandate greenhouse-gas reductions, despite political opposition. Cities like New York and Portland, Ore., continued to press on with plans to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
The reality is that America remains fairly divided on the issue of climate change, and that's not likely to change soon. But the "go local" approach allows states and cities in which the public is ready to fight climate change to go ahead without waiting for the rest of us. It's not ideal, but right now it's the only option we have.