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U.S. climate policy (Policy Brief 250 - November 2011)

U.S. climate policy (Policy Brief 250 - November 2011)


The international climate agreement does make sense if they are supported by the United States, the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gas (GHG) per capita.

But this country is now bound by any treaty that forced him to reduce this pollution. The national energy transition is delayed: the lifestyle and the American system of production are still largely rely on fossil fuels. The coming to power of Barack Obama, who announced his intention to engage in action against climate change, had raised hopes of the international community: the Copenhagen compromise and agreements resulting from Cancun also directly the involvement of American and Chinese leaders. Since then, however, the context has changed dramatically: the economic crisis makes priority policies to boost growth.

  • Climate policy américiane (Policy Brief 250 - November 2011)

The abandonment of the climate bills in Congress, the Supreme Court decision restricting States' initiatives and actions taken by the Republican opposition to block the regulations of the Federal Agency for Environmental Protection (EPA) led to a slowing of presidential ambitions. They are focusing on an energy security strategy, providing for the operation of large domestic reserves of oil, reducing import dependency - constant of U.S. policy since the presidency of Richard Nixon - the use of alternatives energy, and finally the acceleration of energy efficiency in transport and construction. This orientation requires a staunch support to innovation, according to the will of American leadership in global technology industry green.

Internationally, the meeting between Chinese and U.S. presidents in Copenhagen has identified the concessions acceptable to each of these key players in the negotiations. The special envoy of the White House reminds happy: the United States does not object to a new global agreement but discussions about it should only take the implementation of measures adopted in Cancun, whose variation to be the main issue of the Durban conference in late November 2011. Washington is also resolutely opposed to any commitment to a new agreement on the model of the Kyoto Protocol. In the end , only the development of the regulation implemented by the EPA and the pressure of American public opinion could lead to back, ultimately action against climate change at the top of the political agenda.


  • The dashed hopes of parliamentary bills
  • A climate policy that advances masked?
  • Beyond Durban: How to revive a credible climate strategy?
  • Author: Blandine Barreau, Sustainable Development Department

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