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March 14, 2009 / Mridul

EU Wants US to Take Bold Actions on Climate Policy to Put Pressure on India, China

President Obama during his inagural address to the Congress

President Obama during his inagural address to the Congress

The European Union wants President Obama to act on his promise of introducing a new climate change policy and work out the modalities of a cap-and-trade policy before the Copenhagen Talks in December. Doing so, EU ministers say, would send a clear signal to the world and especially the developing countries about the change in America’s environment policy.

The European Union already has clear renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction policy in place but that has yet to make any difference in the stance of the developing countries like India and China. The Asian neighbors continue to resist any demands to reduce their carbon emissions claiming that their contribution to the overall global carbon emissions is very less as compared to that of the developed nations especially the United States which has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

In these circumstances, the EU fears that, the Copenhagen talks aimed at reaching a broad consensus regarding the next set of targets and participants to those emission reduction goals is could see a fate similar to the WTO talks held at Doha, Qatar.

If the US Congress passes an environment policy which explicitly projects a change in the attitude of the administration towards climate change, carbon emissions and renewable energy it would put pressure on India and China to reconsider their policies. Without any change in the stance of these advanced developing countries, both of which are among the world’s top three polluters, the discussions at the Copenhagen round would be fruitless and would jeopardise the future of the next climate treaty.

Shortage of funding for poor countries to help them in procuring latest technology to reduce their carbon emissions and increase use of renewable energy is yet another reason why the European Union wants to see the cap-and-trade scheme passed in the US Congress before December scheduled Copenhagen talks. The EU is currently evaluating two funding schemes to be included in the next climate policy: Levying carbon tax on developed (and possibly advanced developing) nations or to auction off emission permits to industries around the world. There are substantial doubts that countries would agree to a carbon tax.

Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, Connie Hedegaard, said, at the World Future Energy Summit 2009

The deadline set — 2009 — is actually set also by the former Bush administration. It is not just Denmark or Europe or somebody who set that deadline. It is set also by the United States. We must deliver on that deadline and I can see no better alternative than having cap and trade.

We will have to come up with financial means. We will have to find ways and means to disseminate technologies faster and to help the least developed countries adapt to the climate change they are already experiencing.

The United States is also trying to persuade China to soften its stand regarding reducing carbon emissions. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to China made it clear that her administration was willing to put the human rights issue on the back-burner as long as China was willing to work with the United States to address the global economic and environmental issues.

India and China have made it clear that they will not approve of any mandatory emission cuts for the developing nations. India’s climate change envoy clearly stated that the Copenhagen talks could end up in a lock down if mandatory carbon emission cuts were forced on to the developing countries. In such a scenario the United States has to take the lead and demonstrate its willingness to act proactively so that the developing countries can be pressurized to agree at least some kind of mandatory targets.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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