Trans-Atlantic cooperation on environmental issues is necessary to avoid possible catastrophes brought on by climate change, an E.U. policy analyst said at Emory University April 1.
“(Climate change) won’t kill us if we cooperate across the Atlantic, but it won’t be a pretty world if we don’t,” said Andreas Kraemer, director of Ecologic, the Berlin-based Institute for International and European Environmental Policy.
His speech was the kick-off of Emory’s Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning’s 10th anniversary speaker series. Future speakers will analyze U.S. relations with other nations including Afghanistan and India.
Mr. Kraemer said that if global warming continues to melt the arctic ice caps at the current rate, small island nations and coastal areas worldwide could be submerged by 2050.
This would result in the displacement of up to 2 million residents of those low-lying areas and violent clashes for resources among nations.
The political and economic concerns surrounding climate change were evident in Mr. Kraemer’s audience, which included Lutz GÃ¶rgens and Martin Rickerd, consuls general for Germany and the U.K. respectively, and Dennis Pitts, representing Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
Eike Jordan, founder and chair of the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States, introduced Mr. Kraemer and announced the chamber’s 30th anniversary this year. Kristian Wolf, the chamber’s president and CEO and Tom Rosseland, chair of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, were also present.
Mr. Kraemer said that the E.U. has taken the U.S.’ emissions credit trading program and modified it to fit Europe, turning it into a 100-billion-euro initiative with credits that count toward a nation’s gross domestic product.
He added that the E.U. program has undergone several changes since it began in 2005, but the right program can boost GDP, avoiding the economic costs associated with combating climate change.
The E.U. is currently pushing the U.S. for a carbon emission reduction agreement to put in place of the Kyoto Protocol, a non-binding deal to reduce greenhouse gases that runs out later this year. The agreement was ratified by 174 nations but not the U.S.
Mr. Kraemer said that Europeans are sometimes frustrated by what they see as a lack of progress on environmental issues in the U.S. The European Parliament, not willing to see investments in its emissions trading program go to waste, is preparing to put up trade barriers against U.S. energy products if a successor agreement to Kyoto is not reached by the end of the year.
“The E.U. will protect the emissions trading scheme by adjusting trade borders,” he said. “This is a threat directed at the Americans … to come to a solution that everyone can live with.”
The U.S. is currently the world’s top consumer of energy and emitter of greenhouse gases, which Mr. Kraemer said provides the country with the opportunity to meet the European reduction targets by conserving more energy without the need for major lifestyle changes.
“Emission reduction is an invitation for the Americans to call the Europeans’ bluff,” he said, adding that with an emphasis on energy conservation and diversification, the U.S. could outpace Europe as an energy innovator.
Mr. Kraemer pointed to the G8+5 meeting of developed and emerging industrial nations in Washington in February 2007 as evidence that U.S. politicians are coming around to the necessity for action on climate change.
He also said a report released in April 2007 by six retired U.S. generals and five admirals said that climate change poses a threat to national security.
“Whether you’re German, European or American, it’s unpatriotic to waste energy because of the price we pay for it in security,” Mr. Kraemer said.
His organization continues to make presentations in the U.S. and Europe to spread awareness about climate change, but Mr. Kraemer said that Ecologic is not a lobbying group and it is up to lawmakers to take up the issue.