Transatlantic Cooperation on Climate and Energy Policy after the US Midterm Elections

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A European Perspective

Conditions for US climate and energy policy have considerably changed after comprehensive climate and energy legislation has failed in the 111th Congress. In the newly elected 112th Congress, emphasis will likely shift away from climate change to more orthodox supply side energy strategies. At the same time, the Obama administration has announced that the US will continue to pursue moderate greenhouse gas reduction objectives and will remain engaged within the international process to design a global climate change regime. The US will also remain engaged with the European Union, although emphasis has recently shifted towards cooperation within the transpacific space.

Against the background of the above mentioned developments, this paper will explore the consequences for the European Union’s climate and energy strategy as well as for a future international climate regime. From a European perspective this paper explore ideas for enhanced transatlantic climate and energy cooperation, both bilaterally as well as with partners in emerging economies and developing countries. Some of those ideas point well beyond the short term opportunities that present themselves in the next two years until the end of 2012.

Transatlantic cooperation on climate change as well as active participation of both sides within international efforts remains indispensable to achieve success. However, considering political restraints on sides, US and European cooperation on climate change should not be overburdened with unrealistic expectations. Still, the common relationship can draw on a basis of close economic integration, strong cooperation in science and technology and a still existent high public awareness about the basic fact that our current practices to supply our economies with energy are highly unsustainable both economically and ecologically.

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This policy paper has been written in the framework of the EU project "The Climate Network - Transatlantic Solutions for a Low Carbon Economy" and has been made possible by funding from the European Commission.