EU Aligns Climate Policy with US

by William Yeatman on October 22, 2008

European climate diplomacy shifted dramatically yesterday when EU member states for the first time demanded that developing nations join the fight against climate change.

For 15 years, European countries insisted that any international climate treaty abide by the doctrine of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” or the principle that developing countries should be exempt from economically painful emissions reductions, because developed nations are largely responsible for the historical buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The United States has refused to accept the doctrine of “common but differentiated responsibilities. In 1998, by a vote of 95 to 0, the Senate voted in favor of the Byrd-Hagel resolution, which resolved that the U.S. should not sign any international agreement to set mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions that did not also set emissions limits on developing countries. The Senate acted on the belief that it made no sense to harm the U.S. economy, and perhaps even drive domestic industry abroad to strategic competitors, given that the developing world’s future emissions would drive up atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases past the “threshold” that scientists say would cause irreversible climate change, even if developed countries somehow managed to reduce emissions 100%.

The Bush administration has conducted its climate diplomacy largely in accordance with the logic of the Byrd-Hagel resolution, much to the chagrin of European nations, who have maintained that developed nations need to set an example before the developing nations should proceed.

That is, until now. Yesterday, the EU Environmental Council (a body of environmental ministers from EU member states) released a statement that developing countries "would have to reduce their emissions by 15 to 30% below business as usual" by 2020 in order for the EU to sign up to a global emissions reductions regime in Copenhagen in December 2009.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: