January 20, 2009
While the EU 27 worked towards the adoption of groundbreaking climate change legislation in 2008, US President-elect Barack Obama made ambitious commitments to tackle global warming during his presidential campaign. Ahead of international talks on a post-Kyoto climate deal, EurActiv asked experts whether Obama will outgreen Europe.
The question provoked mixed responses, with some interviewees confident that Obama can and will outdo the EU’s climate and energy policies, and others considerably less optimistic.
Experts on both sides of the Atlantic agreed that the US had fallen behind Europe during the Bush presidency. Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, senior director for policy programmes at the German Marshall Fund, noted that “the US has fallen far behind in its entire legislative apparatus that deals with energy efficiency and the carbon economy,” while Avril Doyle MEP, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (see EurActiv LinksDossier), said “George W. Bush dropped the ball completely on this issue when he came to power”.
However, there was also recognition that pre-Bush, the US was a world leader in innovative green policies. Kleine-Brockhoff noted that “the instruments that the EU is suggesting are American, from an era when Americans were the innovators in this field, so the EU toolkit should not be alien to the US”. Doyle indeed recognised that the “original cap-and-trade system in relation to sulphur dioxide is a US creation”.EurActiv Correspondent