Theater of Cruelty

California Dreaming?

California Greenin '- How Golden State Became and Environmental Leader
Forfatter: David Vogel
Forlag: Princeton University Press (USA)
In his new book, Professor David Vogel describes how the state has managed in a number of areas to implement its own regulations to support economic and cultural development and growth.


In preparing for the UN's global goals, there was considerable uncertainty as to whether cities would be granted a new and special status as important "front runners" for the transition to sustainability. The cities and their respective municipalities were given this new status (Objective 11), thus opening up the fact that central decision-making bodies other than nations were recognized as the driving actors for a change. Not least thanks to the efforts of ICLEI – the municipalities' sustainable development organization – the efforts of the cities were recognized.

That decision levels other than the nations can have an impact on the transition to sustainability was already well known. The state of California is an example of this.

It is vital that the system of international institutions – the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and what became the World Trade Organization – be established at the end of 2. World War II, which sings a new "religion" on sustained economic growth, is being dissolved and replaced by new decision-making architectures that put the planet and civilization at the center. »As the imperative of sustained economic growth has been further developed as a coherent economic, political and cultural system based in the West – after 2. world war with the United States and the OECD countries as driving torch carriers.

In David Vogel's book California Greenin '- How Golden State Became and Environmental Leader we get the story of how the state of California has managed to implement its own regulations in support of economic and cultural development and growth in a number of environmental areas, but also as inspiration for the federal government in Washington.

California first?

If California had been a country, then its economy would have been surpassed only by China, Japan, Germany, England and of course the United States. But like other governments, California has been faced with the problem of economic growth and population growth on the one hand and the need for environmental regulations on the other. Because of the landscape's beauty values, but also vulnerabilities, California has developed a culture of tradition of environmental regulation in forest management, landscape beauty protection, air pollution, coastal zone management, energy efficiency and also in participation in global climate negotiations. Thus, in these areas, California has consistently faced the economic and environmental challenges of protecting the coasts, rivers, valleys and forests. The state has specifically relied on the management of limited water resources, the protection of air quality and the attainment of climate change targets. For example, in these priorities with extensive environmental regulation, California has had to accept significantly higher gasoline prices as well as higher energy tariffs for homes and properties. Nevertheless, California (40 million inhabitants and a national gross product of $ 2 billion), with its welfare and beautiful nature, can enjoy the designation "The Golden State."

The protection of Yosemite in 1864 with its waterfalls, rocks and gigantic trees gave rise to the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. California's leadership position in nature protection is reflected in the fact that the federal Environmental Protection Agency of Washington (Environmental Protection Agency) chose California's standards as the rising issue of automobile exhaust emissions had to be curbed. Germany, which for many years has been a non-negligible car exporter to California, chose to support similar standards in the EU. California's leadership role in the environmental field has been in place right up until the Obama administration.

California's greater international role is also evident in the international climate negotiations, which work with governments and local governments around the world. An influence that has not diminished since the US withdrew from the Paris climate agreement in 2017.

What greatly contributes to giving California the dominant role with solutions to environmental and climate problems is that the state is the home and incubator of a number of new technologies and innovations within and associated with renewable energy (Tes-
let). The high standards of the environment and nature in combination with the complex innovative environment – private as well as public – have, especially for younger generations – the "cultural creatives" – created a special attraction.

If California had been a country, its economy would have been surpassed only by China, Japan, Germany, England and of course the United States.

The regional awareness that California citizens have for the entire area must be found in a number of environmental challenges attributable to geography. These include hydraulic mining (gold), redwood extraction (formerly predatory on the world's tallest trees nearly as old as the Pyramids), oil production (surpassed by Texas only), air pollution (six of seven cities with the worst air quality in the United States) located in California), oil spills along the coast, degradation, energy and climate change.

But geography does not in itself develop public policies, as stated by the author. Three factors have been crucial here: a citizen mobilization, the success of the business sector in finding important environmental initiatives, and the state being able to mobilize the necessary capacity for regulation. "Not in my backyard" in California has been renamed "Not in my state".

The development of the many policies with environmental regulation has created both public / common benefits and private / financial benefits. Worth noting is that the more politically influential companies or industries have earned their financial share by getting California ranked on a
path for «greener» growth.

Overall challenge

From a broader perspective, we know that environmental regulation to curb the climate crisis is not enough unless regulation is founded on massive system changes, including burying the growth economy, significantly reducing the level of production and consumption that the rich countries have today, and furthermore depriving the market of decisions that affect our destiny. Here, it is not enough for local urban communities, regional authorities or California to focus on self-protection with resilience (resilience). A settlement with localism becomes necessary. Civil society must focus on the need for a new world order with sustainability and justice. So, to "think globally, act locally", as the UN put it in 1992. The problem today is that there seems to be no interest in developing strategies that can increase the popular understanding of the need for a rapid global transition that is overriding. compared to specific local solutions. Today, local national solutions focus solely on getting the economies developed or reestablished to the detriment of biodiversity, climate and people.

Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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