Representatives of the EU and the US agreed that a global climate change treaty is necessary and achievable at a debate Wednesday. However, while the EU saw achieving US legislation on the matter as crucial, the American line, surprisingly, was to dismiss the relevance of domestic climate change legislation.
Jos Delbeke, the European Commission’s Director General for Climate Change, expressed the EU’s disappointment at the lack of progress on the US legislation issue, particularly on the falling through of a proposed cap and trade scheme on carbon emissions.
“We would have liked to create a trans-Atlantic carbon market”, he said, adding that it was hard to see how the US would reach the 17% emission reduction target confirmed at the Cancun summit without a cap and trade system.
US representative to the EU, Louis Bono, disagreed with the significance given by the EU to the domestic climate change legislation issue, saying that the EU-US partnership did not depend on it. The EU and the US went to the Cancun summit with the same objectives, he said, emphasising President Barack Obama’s commitment to fighting climate change despite strong opposition.
Michael Urban, Professor of Geography at the University of Missouri, agreed that Obama’s administration is “way out ahead” of US public thought concerning climate change.
“The elephant in the room is not the politicians”, he stressed, “it is the American people”. Urban expanded by saying that the people are the lynchpin for any kind of change in the country, but many Americans have let themselves be persuaded by the media that the climate change issue is not critical.
The debate was organised in Brussels by the University of Missouri.