EU Official: Romney Could Make Climate Negotiations ‘More Of An Uphill Struggle’

by Nathaniel Niemann and Stephen Lacey

Mitt Romney’s stance on avoiding action on global warming has been well established.

Saying last year that he believes reducing CO2 emissions is “not the right course for us,” Romney falsely claimed that “we don’t know” what is causing climate change.

Actually, we do know. Even a prominent scientist funded by the Koch brothers agreed with the scientific consensus when he recently concluded that humans are almost entirely the cause” of our warming planet.

So how would Romney’s stance on climate science impact ongoing international negotiations on addressing the issue? According to an article published today by the European news outlet EurActive, some diplomats are expressing fears that a Romney Administration could negatively change the process.

EurActive is reporting on comments from two international climate experts who said that a Romney presidency “would make [climate negotiations] more of an uphill struggle than they are now,” dramatically reducing the chances for international action:

Nigel Purvis, an advisor to the US’s chief Kyoto negotiator in 1998, said that as a president, Romney “would probably have less of an interest in reaching a global agreement [at ICAO] that genuinely reduces emissions in an ambitious kind of way”.

Purvis is the founder and president of the Climate Advisers consultancy.

Under a Romney presidency, there would also be “an enormous change in the level of urgency and attention,” given to negotiations for a successor deal to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of this year, Purvis told EurActiv.

“Romney is not prepared to do anything which has any political cost,” he added.

An EU official told EurActiv that he expected climate talks would “become much harder again” under a Romney administration, while EU-US relations on climate issues would become “quite challenging”.

“It would make [climate negotiations] more of an uphill struggle than they are now,” another EU source said.

“The first thing [Romney] would do would be to fire [US climate chief negotiator] Todd Stern and find someone with his own climate change agenda because Todd Stern has some knowledge about this issue,” the source speculated.

Given that Romney’s energy policy focuses almost entirely on a massive increase in fossil fuels, his recent recently-changed stance that we should “consider the risk of negative consequences” of climate change, is nothing more than lip-service to the issue.

At this point, experts can only speculate as to how a Romney Administration would treat international climate talks.

Some, like Andrew Light, director of international climate policy at the Center for American Progress, believe that the impact could be more limited. Because climate change is becoming a broader piece of foreign policy and diplomacy, Light said “there would be members of the administration who are not isolationists” who might understand the importance of participating in climate negotiations.

“Climate negotiations are coming close to breaking out of their silo, making climate a central driver of broader foreign policy. In that case, leaving the negotiations behind would escalate into a much bigger problem,” Light told Climate Progress before last year’s negotiations in Durban.

However, there’s a big difference between simply participating and actually brokering positive action. And even if a Romney Administration remains within the negotiations, experts are clearly concerned that he would make a difficult process even more difficult.

Nathaniel Niemann is an intern for ThinkProgress coming all the way from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan; Stephen Lacey is Deputy Editor for Climate Progress.

4 Responses to EU Official: Romney Could Make Climate Negotiations ‘More Of An Uphill Struggle’

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Romney is toast, according to the polls. We can’t write off the right wing just yet, though. Romney will carry at least 20 states, and finish only a few points behind. And after we spanked Goldwater in 1964 they came back to haunt us again.

    More worrisome is Obama. It would not have hurt him politically to have made overtures to China, India, and the EU to negotiate a global carbon tax. Nixon, after all, broke the ice with China, and a carbon tax would be in the Democratic tradition. The Republicans have succeeded in intimidating the Democrats, who are themselves awash in corporate money.

    If Obama opens up more drilling and pipelines in 2013- and indications are that he will- and continues to blow off a carbon tax, he’s still better than Romney, but so what? We will be doomed.

  2. David Lewis says:

    The Obama climate policy as it applies to other nations was criticized by a UK NGO, Christian Aid, i.e. delegate Muhamed Adow, in this way, on radio in Australia recently.

    The interview was aired on ABC Radio National Environment show and can be found if you google “Environment ABC Bangkok climate talks”.

    Adow summed up the former US position as do nothing but the world can do what it wants, which was a bad position. He summed up the change by saying now the US wants the world to do nothing along with them which is worse.

    Interviewer: “This is what we already knew. The US has never been a keen climate player”

    Adow: “it is true that the US has been at the heart of climate denial for quite a long time. But now its actually trying to bring down the world international system. In the past it was saying, you can do what you want. But now its saying everybody should do what we’re doing. They failed to join the Kyoto Protocol, now [they are organizing countries] not to join the second commitment period. They’ve got Canada, who actually walked out on Kyoto, they’ve got Japan, who say they won’t be party to a second commitment period. So in the past it was much better – they had a position not to join the world. But now they are actively pushing to get the rest of the world to join them. And that is actually the biggest problem we are facing at the moment.”

    Interviewer: “And what would be the American interest in talking other countries out of the second Kyoto period when they’re not even a party to the first?”

    Adow: “…In 2007 they are part of a compromise, that required parties that are not joined to the Kyoto Protocol to take comparable efforts to the Kyoto parties. They failed to do that, and now they actually want to have the world system dismantled so that you can actually start on a clear slate where you can get away with doing whatever you want. And that won’t get the job done….”

    This is the Obama Administration policy. I imagine a Romney Administration policy would change this from trying to talk the rest of the world into doing nothing about climate, to trying to encourage the world to kill the planet as rapidly as possible by jacking up emissions of anything that could possibly cause harm. A Romney Adminstration could be expected to fund a massive R&D effort into finding new ways to kill the planet more quickly than anyone thought remotely possible.

    What a choice. Vote Obama.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Obama isn’t intimidated-he’s just doing what he has been prepared, since college, by his controllers and financers, to do. He’s lovin’ it!

  4. EDWARD says: