Global Warming Policy in the United States: A Climate of Confusion
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The purpose of this paper is to investigate why climate change policy progress in the U.S. has been slow relative to other parts of the world. By tracking congressional, presidential, media and public attention to climate change since 1990, I show that climate change in an increasingly salient issue in the U.S. Why, then, has the U.S. failed to implement domestic climate change policy and participate in binding international agreements? I argue that U.S. state-centric political structure discourages a coherent national approach to climate change policy, leading to congressional confusion over the seriousness of global warming and what should be done about it. This, combined with a presidential tendency to mention climate change only when it aligns with other administration priorities, has prevented constituency-forming ideas from taking root. The result has been fragmented state and local government action on climate change at the expense of a federal-level strategy.