After a few days in Washington and New-York, I am still trying to make up my mind about the US stance on climate change. Whilst several hardcore republicans still deny the reality of climate change, the political clash is not a traditional democrats vs. republicans fight. It is mainly driven by very vocal corporate interests made of coil, steel (etc) producers whose many of them are located in the middle of the US. On top of that, many republicans have a real problem with the cap and trade regulation which is seen as something quite similar to what remains the worst political injure here, “European socialism”. The picture is not black or white though, the US chamber of commerce which has tried to undermine climate legislation efforts, recently said it supports most of the principles outlined in a bipartisan climate change proposal offered by Sens. John Kerry, (D., Mass.) and Lindsey Graham, (R., N.C.) last week.
But the general feeling is that no agreement should be reached before Copenhagen, which would put Obama in a difficult position on the international scene. The victory of Republicans in Virginia, New Jersey and New-York last week is likely to push Obama to refocus the priorities of its administration on jobs and growth – it’s the economy stupid, even more than in the 90’s, especially with a level of unemployment which does not seem sustainable for a country like the US - a "scarymonster" for many Americans whatever their political colors are.
Last week, the EU was in Washington to speak about climate change and energy. Interestingly the speech given by Merkel on climate change in the Congress has been very well received whilst the first EU-US Energy Council in Washington had a marginal impact. This does not mean that more EU-US relations in this area is meaningless and that Member States should do the job. On the contrary, we need more EU-US contacts to get the EU and the US working more closely together on issues such as climate change, especially between mid-level officials. We could start by improving the relationship between think- tanks from both sides of the Atlantic.
What else? Central Park have beautiful fall colors and the traditional bipartisan wisdom is not in very good shape. But that's tomorrow story.