Blueprint for a Transatlantic Climate Partnership
The United States and Europe are finally finding common ground on climate change. In sharp contrast to years past, the transatlantic partners now agree — including at this year's Group of Eight (G8) Summit in Italy on July 8 — on the severity of the climate threat, the urgency of solutions, the necessity of action by all major emitters, the responsibility of developed nations to take the lead, the responsibility developed nations have to assist developing nations, and the importance of negotiating new global climate agreements.
Yet, there is also reason for concern. With only months remaining before the international community hopes to outline the successor to the Kyoto Protocol (expires in 2012), many key nations are only just starting to define their climate change negotiating positions, or signal where they would be willing to make compromises. Unfortunately, a wide gulf remains globally on three big issues: (1) emissions mitigation actions by the world's major economies, (2) financial support provided by developed nations to developing nations, and (3) international institutions needed to make the new system work. As the negotiations heat up, new signs of transatlantic friction are visible, with European leaders pressing President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to do more than even the greenest American politicians are contemplating. For their part, U.S. policymakers worry that Europe will be weak kneed when it comes to pressing China, India, and other emerging economies to take action as well. Past experience shows that forging a durableglobal consensus will prove difficult, perhaps impossible, if the United States and Europe cannot overcome their differences. In this paper, the author attempts to draw a blueprint for a new transatlantic climate change partnership-one that could serve as the basis for a joint approach to China, India, and other emerging economies. A strong transatlantic partnership would simplify international negotiations and sharpen the focus on what is really needed to reach a strong global agreement quickly.