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Co-operation on regional and global issues

38 - Relations with the US on climate change

Grade: B
Unity 5/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 4/10
Total 13/20
Scorecard 2010/11: B- (11/20)

In spite of the crisis, Europeans kept pressing the US on the issue of climate change, but were rebuffed on many fronts, especially aviation-emissions regulations.

2012 was a frustrating year for Europeans who advocate stronger action against climate change by the US. The inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) came into effect in January, even though airlines were already required to register and report their CO2 emissions in 2011 (no American airline had refused to register). The negative reaction intensified during 2012, especially from China, India, and the US, in anticipation of the phasing-in of the associated tax in 2013. A loose international group dubbed the “coalition of the unwilling” met in New Delhi in 2011, and in Moscow and Washington in 2012, to try to derail the EU’s plans.

After the meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in November 2012 in Montreal, at which member countries agreed to provide a mutually agreed framework for market-based measures dealing with carbon emissions by the autumn of 2013, EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard announced that, as a gesture of goodwill, the EU was “stopping the clock” on the inclusion of aviation into the ETS for a year. But that didn’t prevent the US House of Representatives from passing a bill a day later that allows the Secretary of Transportation to exempt US airlines from complying with the ETS. President Barack Obama signed it into law in spite of his commitment to renew his efforts against global warming during his election campaign.

Europeans faced challenges on other fronts as well. In particular, when they sought support from the US for EU membership or permanent observer status in international environmental organisations such as the Green Climate Fund and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services(IPBES), or the Arctic Council, they did not get it: Americans generally argued that Europeans would be overrepresented. Europeans also failed to get much American commitment at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, (“Rio+20 Earth Summit”) in June. The level of European unity was high, with a distinct role for the EEAS, but there was little more that could be done to move the US in an election year.


Countering the US offensive against EU regulation of aviation emissions
Leaders: France - Germany
Slackers: Spain