President Bush is not expected to give in to this new climate-change lobbying when he gives his annual State of the Union speech on 23 January. According to US media, he will put energy security once more at the heart of his policies and embrace ethanol as the miracle solution to fight America's energy dependency.
Since the president rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, the US has come to be seen by many Europeans as the leader of the "axis of climate-change evil". With the US on the sidelines, the European Union has claimed world leadership in efforts to combat global warming and turned its greenhouse-gas emissions trading scheme - despite all its weaknesses - into a model solution.
But, under pressure from European industry's fears of loss of competitiveness, the EU is struggling with its leadership role. Although the Commission promised unilateral emission reductions of 20% by 2020 in its recent energy-climate change package, it has difficulties finding a compromise between its climate change strategy and its economic growth and competitiveness (Lisbon Agenda) objectives, once more precise policies are on the table, as suggested by the Commission's internal fighting over CO2 emissions from passenger cars. A proposal to replace the current voluntary agreement with car producers and introduce binding legislative targets was postponed on 23 January 2007 due to heavy lobbying from industry and the Commission's Enterprise directorate.
In the meantime, US energy ideology is undergoing a climate-change shift, with only the federal government still hesitant to make a similar U-turn. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has become the champion of climate-change activists, introducing measures for a 25% reduction of emissions by 2020 and a low-carbon standard for automotive fuels.
The new Democrats majority in the US Congress has also put climate change high on its agenda. In its first 100 hours, House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the establishment of a new select committee on climate change and introduced legislation on energy security. In the US Senate, Republican senator and possible 2008 presidential candidate John McCain is inviting a group of more than 80 global legislators to Washington to discuss climate change.
The new USCAP coalition is a clear signal that big business in the US has woken up to the climate-change issue and could have a major influence on the next presidential election campaign.