Business Briefs

Climate Change: Towards a New Transatlantic Consensus?

For almost a decade, the transatlantic allies have been deeply divided on the topic of global warming. Europe has been a strong proponent of coordinated cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and one of the leading players behind the Kyoto Protocol. The EU has pioneered an emissions trading scheme, has accepted binding targets for emission cuts and has committed itself to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 1990 levels in 2020. Under George W. Bush, the US has contested scientific evidence that carbon emission leads to global warming, has refused to become a party to the Kyoto Protocol and has relied on voluntary measures to achieve emission reductions. US failure to find a common position effectively stalled global progress on climate change.

With the election of Barack Obama, there is a chance that a new transatlantic consensus might emerge. Obama, like no other US President, has emphasized the need to shift to a more sustainable way to produce and consume energy. He has appointed proponents of emission cuts to high-ranking positions in the new US administration and has promised large investments in renewable energies. As the transatlantic allies gear up to negotiate a new international treaty on climate change to replace the existing Kyoto Treaty in Copenhagen in December 2009, chances for a new transatlantic consensus seem propitious. This brief explores whether we can expect a convergence of American and European views on climate change and whether – as some have suggested – the US under Obama will assume a leading role on climate change at the global level.

  • Global Climate Change: Towards a Post-Kyoto Framework
  • The United States and Climate Change: The Dawn of a Green Era?
  • The European Union and Climate Change: Paragon or Pariah?
  • Conclusion: Partners or Adversaries?


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