The most efficient and immediate action the United States can take on clean energy is to move forward on implementation of the agreements struck this year with China. This means ensuring the programs have sufficient resources—financial capital, human capital, and bureaucratic support. The Obama administration should start planning now for assessments of the initiatives and track and report implementation transparently. These programs must be accompanied by continued efforts in Congress and by the White House to pass domestic climate change legislation, which will be crucial to claiming a better position in international negotiations.
Internationally, the United States should continue working within the so-called Major Economies Forum, consisting of government representatives from the world’s the 17 largest economies, to address energy and climate change challenges and to support the U.N. negotiation process for a post-Kyoto treaty in Cancun, Mexico, later this year. The MEF takes China out of the much larger Group of 77 developing nations, where it is paired with very poor countries with low carbon footprints. Within the MEF, the United States should find incentives for the countries that have aligned themselves with China, such as India, Brazil, and South Africa, to support a more rigorous global deal.
As the United States continues working to press forward with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change process, it should also collaborate with MEF member nations on bottom-up efforts to move countries to low-carbon economies. Initiatives such as the Clean Energy Ministerial, which “[brings] together ministers from major economies to collaborate on policies and programs that accelerate the world’s transition to clean energy technologies,” can encourage implementation and scaling up of clean and renewable energy projects that will create the pathway for meeting national targets set at international negotiations like the UNFCCC.
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