''The biggest risk for effective transatlantic climate cooperation is that policymakers and thought leaders in Europe and the United States will choose to ignore the strategic implications from Copenhagen, however obvious they may be, simply because those implications are too depressing and politically difficult to accept. The worst thing the Atlantic partners could do now is to reaffirm old strategies with a new sense of patience. The chance of this happening is greatest in Europe because it is the most committed to the top-down strong multilateral solution that seems so sensible in theory but so unlikely in practice, and because some European politicians will see risk in moving away from established orthodoxies.
Yet, to protect the climate, a fundamental shift in thinking is essential. The most effective strategy would begin focusing, country-by-country, on advancing concrete mitigation actions that further broader sustainable development objectives. The keys to success for Europe and the United States in this new approach will be offering financial support on a pay-for-performance basis and aligning international trade policy with climate objectives.
Negotiating formal climate commitments via global talks must turn into an important but lesser priority, informed by realistic expectations about the extent and pace of likely progress. Moving from climate commitments to climate action is not without risk. Developing nations have opened the door, but this approach is untested.
Success will depend on political will around the world. For its part, Europe must lead in old and new ways. It must continue to reduce its own emissions and press the United States for domestic action while also finding for the first time the will to mobilise even larger international climate funds. Europe also must come to terms with the unfortunate truth that US leadership – even in the age of Obama – is far from assured and that Europe must be prepared to continue leading alone. But the greatest responsibility lies with the United States. To whom much is given, much is expected. The United States must find the strength to act even if ideal approaches prove politically impossible. It must accept the reality that US leadership is not only warranted but also essential to avoiding unacceptable risks of catastrophic climate change.''