Background: Transatlantic Energy and Environmental Policy

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Cooperation between the United States and the European Union is at an all-time high. Within the framework of institutions such as the Transatlantic Economic Council, NATO, and annual US-EU joint summits, American and European leaders regularly collaborate on critical political, economic, and security issues. However, transatlantic cooperation continues to lag behind in one area of growing importance: global environmental issues, particularly climate change. Global climate change can only be addressed through international action, and intergovernmental initiatives, and the participation of both the EU and the US is crucial to the success of any such efforts.

In December 2009, the nations of the world convened at a UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, to hash out an agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. However, the success or failure of Copenhagen remains questionable. For months, pre-summit negotiations were deadlocked by disagreements between developed and developing nations over how to distribute the burden of emissions reductions and the cost of responding to climate change. In addition, some European officials have argued that a lack of political will in the US - particularly opposition to legally binding and internationally enforceable targets for emissions reductions - doomed the conference. The absence of domestic consensus created doubts about whether the US could keep any pledges it makes at Copenhagen, however, these doubts have so far been proved false. The US and much of the developed world have stood by the agreements made at Copenhagen.