Climate policies in the EU and USA: Different approaches, convergent outcomes?

19-11-2015

This briefing surveys the climate policies of the European Union and the United States and identifies both similarities and differences in their respective positions ahead of the UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris. Both the EU and the USA have achieved emission reductions in recent years, although the policy frameworks are rather different. The EU has a comprehensive legislative framework aiming to implement common targets agreed among its Member States. The USA has a diverse range of measures at city, state and federal level. As the US Congress has not passed major climate change legislation in the last ten years, federal rules are generally based on pre-existing legislation, notably the Clean Air Act. Although both the EU (and its Member States) and the USA are Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, only the EU has accepted binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, which the USA signed, but refused to ratify. The USA has recently entered into a series of bilateral engagements on climate change with major developing economies including China, India, Brazil and Indonesia. In view of the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, the EU would prefer to see binding mitigation commitments for all Parties, while the USA favours non-binding nationally determined contributions. Both the EU and the USA agree on the importance of transparency, reporting and verification, and advocate a mechanism for raising levels of the Parties' ambition over time.

This briefing surveys the climate policies of the European Union and the United States and identifies both similarities and differences in their respective positions ahead of the UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris. Both the EU and the USA have achieved emission reductions in recent years, although the policy frameworks are rather different. The EU has a comprehensive legislative framework aiming to implement common targets agreed among its Member States. The USA has a diverse range of measures at city, state and federal level. As the US Congress has not passed major climate change legislation in the last ten years, federal rules are generally based on pre-existing legislation, notably the Clean Air Act. Although both the EU (and its Member States) and the USA are Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, only the EU has accepted binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, which the USA signed, but refused to ratify. The USA has recently entered into a series of bilateral engagements on climate change with major developing economies including China, India, Brazil and Indonesia. In view of the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, the EU would prefer to see binding mitigation commitments for all Parties, while the USA favours non-binding nationally determined contributions. Both the EU and the USA agree on the importance of transparency, reporting and verification, and advocate a mechanism for raising levels of the Parties' ambition over time.