Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

Reader 2

Albert Park

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© 2016 Catherine M Teebay


California has long been credited for being an environmental policy pioneer. It only achieved this status after allowing pollution to develop for decades, however. As the aerospace and other manufacturing industries took off during World War II, the environment was sacrificed for industrial capitalism. In the 1950s, California began to respond to pollution after concern was expressed by the state and its residents. Today, the US EPA has adopted California emissions standards and looks to the state for guidance when establishing its policies regarding mobile emissions; California is an environmental policy leader.

While California is recognized as an environmental leader, China is perceived as having forfeited the environment in exchange for rapid industrial growth starting in 1978. As pollution has worsened in China, the rest of the world has watched the Chinese Communist Party ignore its growing problem. Recently, the Chinese government started to acknowledge the growing concerns and expressed an interest in learning what it can do to mitigate its pollution problem. To this end, the Chinese government has been sending delegations of policymakers and researchers to California to learn from California’s successes and failures regarding environmental policy.

This thesis compares California’s and China’s environmental degradation and policy response to the issue of pollution. Both California and China developed by way of industrial capitalism and have worked together in the past. California and China are inextricably linked, and have an opportunity to learn from one another and to work together to reach a common goal of pollution reduction.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.