National Driving Forces in U.S. Climate Policy Part III

Studies show that there is a relatively strong connection between the population’s willingness to pay for environmental measures and the state of the economy. In particular, the willingness to prioritize other issues weakens when unemployment rises. Throughout 2009, there were significantly fewer people who believed that measures against climate change should be given high priority by the government. The belief that the climate problem is man-made was also significantly weakened towards 2010.

The elected representatives in Congress were naturally affected by the economic crisis in their consideration of the climate bill. Throughout the spring of 2009, energy-intensive companies in particular began sending messages of concern to members of Congress. They believed that increased energy prices would impose an undue burden on industry in an already difficult economic situation. Even when the climate bill was presented in the House, it was immediately opposed by Republicans. These questioned the reason for a climate law as the support of the population for such regulations was very low and the crisis in the economy was serious.

Democratic leaders, for their part, stressed that a climate law could encourage investment in environmentally friendly energy technology, which could boost the economy and create new jobs. But the climate bill died in the Senate , and a probable contributing factor was that moderate senators in both parties did not see the point in debating and voting on a climate law that would drive energy prices up in the middle of an economic crisis that had changed the population’s views on political issues. should be given the highest priority.

7: USA and international climate cooperation

The United States acceded to the UN Climate Convention in 1992, but withdrew from the more binding Kyoto agreement in 2001. The United States is a key player in international climate policy; An international climate agreement that does not include the United States is very ineffective. The United States’ large share of global emissions indicates this (18% in 2010). An international climate agreement without the United States therefore means that a large proportion of global emissions are not covered by international regulations. American participation is also important because it can trigger participation from other key countries. In the international climate negotiations, the United States and China have long been locked in incompatible and mutually conditioned positions. The United States will not enter into an agreement that does not include emission commitments for China, and China will not enter into an agreement until the United States has shown both willingness and ability to reduce its emissions first.

The US Constitution gives the president the authority to negotiate international agreements on behalf of the country. But the president can only ratify (finally approve) an agreement if at least 2/3 (ie 67) of the senators agree to the obligations in the agreement. In many cases, however, it is necessary to pass a new federal law – so-called “enabling legislation” – which specifies how the international obligations are to be met. All political regulation in the United States is subject to a strict implementation regime to prevent the authorities from being sued if statutory policy is not implemented. When international agreements most often depend on enabling legislation in Congress, it is difficult for the United States to accede to international agreements that are not already reflected in national law. It thus proved impossible to pass a federal climate law even during a period when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and the presidency. This means that a US ratification of an international climate agreement will be difficult to achieve.

However, the Obama administration decided to try to take advantage of existing legislation to introduce regulations on US greenhouse gas emissions. The opportunity that presented itself was the Air Pollution Act (Clean Air Act).

8: Immediate climate maneuver

In 2007, the US Supreme Court ruled that the EPA ( Environmental Protection Agency ) has the authority to implement regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions under the Air Pollution Act if the EPA could scientifically document that the emissions pose a threat to citizens’ health and welfare. The ruling enabled the Obama administration to implement climate action independently of Congress. Based on scientific studies from the UN Climate Panel and the National Research Council, the EPA determined in 2009 that the probability is high that greenhouse gas emissions are harmful to health and welfare. In 2010, the EPA began preparing to regulate the most important sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, a country located in North America according to simplyyellowpages.

Opponents of climate policy in Congress , however, dispute the EPA’s right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. This right can only be restricted or revoked through a congressional resolution. Especially after the Climate Act crashed in Congress in 2010, opponents have tried to stop EPA regulations by law. This discussion is still ongoing in Congress.

What may affect US greenhouse gas emissions the most in the future, however, is that huge amounts of shale gas and oil have been found and put into production in the United States. The shale gas has contributed to historically low prices for natural gas, which in turn has led to many power producers switching from coal to gas in electricity production. This is a major reason for the sharp decline in US greenhouse gas emissions from 2011 to 2012. From the peak year of 2007 to 2012, US CO 2 emissions in power production fell by 12%. However, the reduction in emissions in the United States in recent years is market-driven, not politically driven development. If gas prices start to rise again, US greenhouse gas emissions could increase as fast as they have now fallen. Without political measures that “force” a lasting transition from coal to gas in the power sector, there is no guarantee that the emission decline in the United States will continue.

Opposition in Congress to regulating greenhouse gas emissions has been stable for a long time. A US ratification of an international climate agreement is therefore very unlikely in the foreseeable future.

National driving forces in US climate policy

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