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Can the Transatlantic Climate Bridge alter the position of the U.S. in Global Climate Change Negotiations?

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper assesses the prospects for the German Foreign Ministry''s "Transatlantic Climate Bridge" (TCB) project to alter the negotiating posture of the U.S. in global climate change negotiations. Both preceding and in the wake of Copenhagen, it has been clear to observers that significant advances in developing a meaningful response to global climate change will require participation by the United States and China. Germany, as a global leader in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and in the development of alternative energy production, has captured first-mover advantages for German industry in green technologies, but can not by itself contribute significantly to alleviating the processes contributing to climate change. Incentives offered by the EU to induce non-EU states to adopt more robust measures -- such as promising larger reductions in greenhouse gas emissions if others agree to meet EU target reduction levels -- are inadequate to alter the positions of the U.S. and China, which are determined by their respective domestic political environments. Accordingly, the TCB may be viewed as an alternative approach designed to change the dynamics of global negotiations by operating at the domestic level to move the U.S. toward a position that may, in turn, induce China to embrace more substantive formal commitments. The Transatlantic Climate Bridge focuses on the sharing of German practices, innovation successes, and evidence of green job creation in such areas as renewables production and energy efficient construction with U.S. cities, state-level policy makers, and private businesses. What are the prospects for this approach to shift the U.S. bargaining position over time? There is considerable evidence that innovation in policy making and regulation often takes place at the state level in the U.S. (regulation of hazardous chemicals represents a good example); in this sense, the German strategy appears to be operating at the appropriate level. By examining the substance of the TCB and interactions at the state and local level in the U.S., the paper will evaluate the likely impact of the TCB on the global bargaining position of the U.S. government.