The EmeraldPlanet programs are currently available in all countries and territories around the world. The Emerald Trek is encompassing over , miles, visiting major cities, and 50, suburban and rural communities in the identified nations. Vivian E. Thomson is an environmental policy expert with 30 years of practical and academic experience at the local, state, national, and international levels. From to Dr. This institution of higher education is the most important Brazilian university.
It was founded in It has more than 92, enrolled students, from which It was top ranked in the last year survey among Latin American universities located from Mexico through to Chile. A number of interdisciplinary research projects have been developed involving climate change issues. Parente is Vice-Coordinator. Before joining academia, she worked as executive in the investment banking sector, mainly in infrastructure financing.
Her program fosters transatlantic and global dialogue in support of a low carbon economy agenda, with a particular focus on renewable energies. They were referring to the US presidential election, which remained undecided for five weeks as Florida officials tried to decide whether Vice President Al Gore or Texas governor George W. While the world stayed riveted to the unfolding drama it became clear that local election boards, governors, state legislators, state secretaries of state, state courts, party-appointed electors, and federal courts all have a say in US presidential election outcomes.
The division of, and overlap in, responsibility among state and national political institutions reflect the system of political checks and balances that James Madison predicted in would prevent concentration of political power. In Federalist, No. Further, Madison asserted, dividing power among legislative, executive, and judicial branches would ensure that no branch could act unilaterally. Madison was making this pitch to colonists skeptical about centralized power.
His concerns reflected the sentiment that Americans should avoid concentrating government power in any single authority.
Dr. Vivian E. Thomson
Although Madison and his contemporaries might barely recognize the US political system now, ambition still counteracts ambition in myriad ways. Because the stakes were enormously high prominent attorneys for Gore and Bush worked every aspect of the election system.
Eventually the US Supreme Court stopped the vote counting and Bush was declared the winner by a slender majority. It took two weeks of class time in Denmark to explain why it took so long to just count the votes. Eleven years later I found myself lecturing to German university students on a different topic but with essentially the same message.
My mission was to explain why it is sometimes hard to achieve consensus in the United States on social legislation like a national climate change law. Well before the EU ETS came into force Germany adopted in an aggressive greenhouse gas reduction target, pledging to reduce national emissions by 25 percent in , relative to In Germany introduced its famous feed-in tariff system, which guarantees payments over 20 years and connection to the grid for individuals or organizations generating electricity from renewable sources.
As a result of the feed-in tariff and other stimuli for renewable energy installation, windmills and solar panels are common sights in Germany, a country that is not especially sunny. These and related actions seem to have had the desired effects. In the cost of renewable electricity in Germany drew even with that of fossil-generated electricity.
Accustomed to the notion of national political action in the climate and energy arenas, the German students wondered why no president has seized the day and pushed through a climate or renewable energy law. I reminded them the US president is not the leader of the Congress, unlike the German chancellor, who leads the majority party in the Bundestag. As presidential scholar Richard Neustadt famously observed, Presidential power is the power to persuade.
Neustadt meant that to accomplish anything important the president must work to influence others in positions of power. But I also spoke to the students about climate action at the state level, to underscore the relative independence of the states in the US federal system.
Contested Spaces: The Brazilian Amazon — ACM - Associated Colleges of the Midwest
The absence of a national climate change law gives states room to develop individualized strategies or none at all, and we witness that entire range of choices in the states. The endangerment declaration set the stage for more stringent vehicle emission limits and for stationary source regulation.
By comparison with Germany or even less aggressive European Union member states, this progress at the national level in the US is modest and late in coming, and it trails far behind state-level efforts that date back to the early s. The United States is an outlier on the international stage as the only industrialized nation not to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, under which nations responsible for historical greenhouse gas emissions agreed to reduce their emissions.
Yet the United States leads almost all industrialized nations in energy-related per capita carbon dioxide emissions and US greenhouse gas emissions rose by 8 percent between and By contrast, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU member states decreased by One credible estimate holds the United States responsible for Prominent US politicians have balked at joining the Kyoto Protocol unless India and China, now the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, accept emission reduction commitments.
It is true that the United States contributes a diminishing portion of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States accounted for 17 percent of global carbon dioxide gas emissions as compared with a 23 percent share in Overall global carbon dioxide emissions from energy use rose by 51 percent between and and 70 percent of that increase came from China and India.
In early energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the United States were at their lowest level since It is also the case that US economic productivity has become decoupled from carbon dioxide emissions. Even as greenhouse gas emissions grew by 8 percent between and , national GDP increased by 68 percent during that interval. At the same time, goods move around the globe, which makes it more difficult to attribute greenhouse gas emissions to particular countries. American resistance to forceful action was evident even during international climate change talks in , when President Barack Obama said the United States would aim for a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by relative to By comparison, the European Union aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in relative to levels, when US emissions were 16 percent lower than in International pressure applied over two decades has not impelled ratification of the Kyoto Protocol or spurred the passage of a national climate change law in the United States.
The urge for climate change reform must originate domestically and that motivation is not likely to result from additional scientific studies. Rather, it will come when the right political coalitions form in support of aggressive action. The path to those coalitions is not clear. An antiregulatory majority controls the House of Representatives through Senators from lightly populated states, many of them with rural constituents suspicious of government regulation, wield a great deal of power. The US states hold an important key to a successful global warming solution, for practical and political reasons.
In the United States air pollution policymaking starts and ends with the states, whose governmental units implement national programs. Further, federal Clean Air Act amendments can pass only when lawmakers adapt them to state and local economic and political circumstances.
But we find ourselves in uncharted waters in the United States when it comes to state—national relations in climate change. Many states have developed climate change and renewable energy policies ahead of the national government. While most observers expected the Congress to enact a climate change law with uniform national requirements, that outcome seems highly unlikely in the near future.
US greenhouse gas emissions have unexpectedly decreased and that trend may well. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
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