The European commissioner for environment, Stavros Dimas, has written to US President Barack Obama calling for the USA and Europe to form an alliance to tackle climate change. He also suggested that the USA adopts a European-style emissions trading scheme.
In his letter, Dimas said, "There can be no greater challenge for any political leader than rolling back the spectre of a warming planet. The commitment of your administration to this issue is a source of great encouragement."
"If Europe's efforts are
to make a real
difference then we need
America to join us
shoulder to shoulder in
the battle against
Stavros Dimas, European
He said that, in March 2007, 27 European leaders made the commitment that the European Union (EU) would cut its emission by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. Dimas added, "If other major players follow this lead then we will cut our own emissions by a further 10%." He told Obama, "The world is looking to America to show a similar level of ambition."
Dimas said that in December 2008, the EU agreed a package of policies in order to achieve its objectives. He said, "We have put a price on carbon using an Emissions Trading System (an idea we borrowed from the US by the way). Our ETS is now fully operational and other countries have been looking to learn from our example. By using the power of the market we can provide industry with incentives to reduce emissions and also to drive forward innovation in low-carbon technologies."
He told Obama, "Europe is only a small part of the problem and our emissions are some 14% of the global total. We will only be successful if others are encouraged to follow the low carbon route and it is clear that no global solution will be possible without the full and active support of the US."
"This is not only because the US accounts for 22% of global emissions," Dimas said. "But most importantly it is because many other countries, including countries like China, cannot see why they should decarbonise their own economies if the world's richest economy does not also make firm commitments. If Europe's efforts are to make a real difference then we need America to join us shoulder to shoulder in the battle against climate change."
Dimas added, "As you have pointed out on several occasions, working with international partners to forge a coalition against climate change will re-confirm America's position as a global leader that is prepared to address global problems."
Since taking office in the White House, Obama has vowed that the USA will lead the world in the battle against climate change, and has signed orders aimed at reducing the country's dependence on imported oil and placing a "new energy economy" at the heart of US energy policy.
Even before his inauguration, President Obama has been clear in his aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean energy, with nuclear included in the energy mix, sentiments echoed by his newly appointed Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Just prior to his formal appointment as Energy Secretary, Chu recently told the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that Obama's plans for energy independence included a continued commitment to nuclear energy, along with a long-term plan for radioactive waste management and disposal.