Finding Transatlantic Common Ground on Climate Change?

Published in: International Spectator, v. 36, no. 2, Apr.-June, 2001, p. 77-89

by Robert J. Lempert

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The United States and European Union have reached an impasse over climate change, which threatens both transatlantic relations and the Earth's environment. The deep uncertainty associated with climate change greatly exacerbates the diplomatic challenge. Current scientific understanding supports a range of views, from those who see the problem as a potential environmental catastrophe to those who argue its effects will be hard to notice among the other changes of the 21st century. Under such conditions, policymakers should seek climate protection strategies robust across a wide range of potential future scenarios. This article offers five key, near-term goals for a robust, long-term climate policy. It then suggests modifications to the current policy framework, with less stringent binding emissions targets offset by additional milestones for near-term policy, that could help the US and EU find common ground on climate change.

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