Momentum for Copenhagen
This week's response comes from Dominick Chilcott, the deputy head of mission for the British Embassy in Washington.
Q: Do you think EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health will prod Congress to agree on its own method for limiting emissions? If not, what do you think would be the environmental and economic impact of the EPA regulations? Will this convince other countries that the U.S. is likely to make deep cuts in carbon in the near future?
This week's EPA announcement is a further demonstration that President Obama's administration is committed to tackling climate change. We hope it will provide additional momentum and motivation to American negotiators at Copenhagen, and will help the world achieve its goal of a fair and ambitious global deal.
I find it interesting that the question frames the debate as legislation versus regulation -- for us in the UK it is not an either/or question. In terms of legislation, the UK 2008 Climate Change Act delivers a commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 34 percent by 2020 against 1990 levels (and we may go to 42 percent as part of an ambitious deal at Copenhagen). The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) cap and trade is a key mechanism for doing this in the most efficient way for business, giving them a long-term carbon price signal so they can invest with confidence. But we also have regulation: specific performance standards, incentives for better public transport, building regulations that will require all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016, a requirement for utilities to source a certain proportion of their energy from renewable sources, and other measures.
The EPA and other regulatory agencies here in the U.S. are already active. I'm sure they will continue to have a critical and innovative role to play in the years ahead.
December 10, 2009; 11:23 AM ET
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Posted by: MarieDevine | December 13, 2009 9:13 PM
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