The decarbonisation challenge – US and European perspectives

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

Peter Goldmark (Environmental Defence NGO) and Ernst-Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Dean of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California), in this paper for the Bertelsmann Stiftung think-tank, compare the measures taken so far by Europe and the US to reduce carbon emissions.

This article, written by a European and an American both “deeply engaged in efforts to moderate global warming”, offers a perspective “on the present situation regarding climate change in Europe, a parallel perpective on the situation in the US”, then closes with “the recommendations and policy opportunities that the authors consider should be on the agenda of the transatlantic partnership”.

Goldmark and von Weizsäcker find that Europe is the “leading geopolitical unit today in defining and mobilising global progress toward a regime of carbon limits that holds out the possibility of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of global warming”.

In the trade-off between the aggressiveness of the steps required, and the time remaining in which to take them, the authors believe that “it is clearly in the interest of humanity to start early and carefully, rather than late and drastically. Europe has grasped this; as of this writing the US is just beginning to awaken to that fact.” 

However, the upcoming emissions-reduction challenge will require “a difficult and fateful conversation with the large and growing economies of the South”, one which the US and Europe will have to engage in standing side-by-side.

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