Washington feels heat of climate change

The UK will send a senior Northern Ireland official to Washington in a bid to strengthen relations with President Joe Biden’s administration ahead of a legal battle with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol.

As lawmakers of more than 20 countries meet in Washington to discuss climate change and energy security, the US Congress is abuzz with legislative proposals to reduce American greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Legislators Forum on Climate Change and Energy Security will allow European policymakers to sample the renewed interest in climate change on Capitol Hill.

In the past two months, several legislative proposals on fighting climate change have been introduced in the House and the Senate and the media have rediscovered the climate-change issue as a result of Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ campaign. No candidate for the next US Presidency elections in 2008 can avoid making a radical proposal to combat global warming. Next to the Iraq war, climate change is likely to be the number one issue in the campaigns for the White House.

The most radical proposal has been introduced by Independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Barbara Boxer. Their Global Warming Pollution Act  demands an 80% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050 compared to 1990 levels and focuses very much on renewable energy.

Probably the most well-known in Europe is the proposal by Senators McCain (Republican) and Lieberman (Independent), recently supported by Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. Their Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007 also requires heavy reductions (one third reduction of emissions by 2050 compared to 2000) and the introduction of a market-based cap-and-trade system.

But not only Democrat politicians have jumped on the climate-change bandwaggon. Stark warnings that the US should do more to combat global warming have also come from big business. On 22 January, ten major US corporations joined with four environmental groups to establish the US Climate Change Action Partnership (USCAP). This new coalition urged the American government to propose strong legislation to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions (see EURACTIV 23 Jan 2007). 

Government representatives, parliamentarians and business leaders of more than 20 countries will be meeting in Washington on 14-15 February 2007 to debate climate change and energy security.

Since the publication of the Stern Report on the costs of climate change, the changing of the guard in the US Congress and the recent IPCC report, climate fever has once again gripped global lawmakers.

In Europe, the European Commission presented an ambitious energy-climate change package on 10 January 2007. In the US, Governor Schwarzenegger has become the champion of the environmental movement and in the Congress the new Democrats majority had led to several new proposals to reduce US emissions of greenhouse gases. 

The gathering of global lawmakers is supposed to provide input for the July G8 summit in Germany.

  • The EU Energy Council will discuss the Commission's energy-climate change package on 15 February and environment ministers will do the same on 20 February.

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