Jumpstarting Global Green Growth: International Climate Strategies in the New Transatlantic Political Context
Recent political events have been deeply discouraging for those concerned about the adverse impacts of climate change. The messy and, to many, disappointing outcome of the December 2009 global climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, was followed in 2010 initially by the collapse of U.S. climate legislation and then by major gains in the U.S. midterm elections by opponents of ambitious action. With a faltering global economy, a new sense of realism about both the prospects for U.S. leadership, and the slow pace of global climate talks, the political tail winds that once appeared to fill the climate policy sails have dissipated.
Significant forward momentum is still possible. The author argues that the growing international consensus for “green growth” provides major opportunities for the transatlantic community to spur global climate action. Even though some nations are already pursuing green growth, he explains why success in capitalizing on the green growth paradigm will depend on the willingness of the United States, European countries, and other developed nations to share the cost of new policies and practices in developing nations. He also offers concrete policy recommendations for U.S. and European leaders, taking into account the new political landscape. The author intends to show that regardless of the likely inadequacy of U.S. domestic emissions mitigation, the transatlantic parties can pursue a common international agenda for mitigating emissions in developing nations.
The paper is divided into two parts. The first part presents a new theory of change for international climate action based on the concept of green growth. The second connects this new way of thinking to today’s global climate diplomacy and suggests a practical way forward. The focus is almost exclusively on the challenge of emissions mitigation in developing nations. Adapting to climate change is enormously important — as the author has written elsewhere — and the concept of green growth may prove important to that effort too, but those connections are not explored here.