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Climate Change: An Important Foreign Policy Issue

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International climate policy is one of the most fascinating issues in foreign policy, yet in recent years it has become one of the most contentious. The failure of the conference in The Hague revealed, among other things, strongunderlying rifts in the transatlantic relationship. As the self-acclaimed worldleader, the United States is not in a position to exert leadership in this vital area owing to a mixture of constitutional constraints and an ever-growing cultural dependence on fossil fuels such as oil and gas. It therefore falls to the European Union to take up this challenge. This will require careful coalition building with the rest of the world as well as confidence in the ability of Europe to develop a united position, to stick to that position and to translate the rules of the Kyoto Protocol into stringent domestic climate policy. The climate change regime is at a crossroads. At the resumed COP-6 con-ference, the Parties must decide whether to continue the process under theassumption ‘that global problems require global solutions’ or whether to turn to the more regional concept of ‘think globally, act locally’. In either case, steering climate policy in this century on to a successful path will require the skills and dedication not only of natural scientists and technology developers, but also of those in the foreign policy community.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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