Human activities and their many byproducts are changing the climate of our planet. These changes, like the contributions of different countries and communities to climate change, vary substantially around the world. Every year, the average US citizen pushes almost 20 tons of carbon into the atmosphere, while Europeans, Chinese, and Indians average about 8.5, 5.7, and 1.4 tons, respectively (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency 2009). Political systems respond very differently to climate change issues. Some countries and local communities have acted to slow and reverse their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while others have ignored the problem or refused to act. Often, those who take action use different policy options, as climate change related decisions occur at every level of human organization, from choices made by individuals when purchasing a product to every level of public sector governance (cities, states and provinces, national governments, and international organizations). Comparative politics research offers tools for examining this complex set of outcomes.
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