Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Bill Christian

Reader 2

Emil Morhardt

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© 2014 Taryn Akiyama


The purpose of this thesis is to analyze climate change initiatives in China, the United States, and California, determine where they fall on a spectrum from climate change leader to climate change laggard, and evaluate the need for more effective collaboration among these entities in order to collectively tackle the global threat of climate change. This thesis supplements existing literature in the field by synthesizing the climate change activities of three important players in the global arena: China, the United States, and California. This thesis is different from other research, however, by underscoring the collaboration between these three entities and specifically recommending cap and trade as a mechanism through which to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In this thesis, I claim that on a spectrum from climate change laggard to climate change leader, the United States settles as a laggard, California emerges as a leader, and contrary to popular belief, I argue that China is transitioning between the two. Moreover, I emphasize the importance of more collaboration – especially more substantive collaboration – between these key players in order to achieve significant global emissions reductions because they will stimulate other partnerships around the world and trigger more collective action on climate change. Finally, I offer cap and trade as a viable option through which these three entities can work together to reduce their contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.

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