World leaders struck a deal last month during the Durban United Nations conference that sets a path to a global climate deal by 2015 — a precarious agreement including major developing countries like China and India. However, a report by the research branch of the HSBC bank predicts a deal would be trashed if President Obama is not reelected. With climate denial and opposition to emissions limits rampant in the GOP field, HSBC finds a global deal would be “almost impossible” if a Republican wins the White House:
[The] prospects for a new global climate deal in 2015 depend considerably on the election of a pro-climate action president. The election of a President opposed to climate action will not only damage growth prospects for low-carbon solutions in the USA itself, but will make the hard task of negotiating a new global agreement by 2015 almost impossible. If Obama is re-elected with support in both houses, we expect modest measures to introduce a federal clean energy standard for electricity; a stripped down cap and trade programme could re-emerge building on the regional scheme on the West and East coasts.
Though some GOP contenders haven’t always positioned themselves as climate zombies, everyone from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, to Jon Huntsman have doubted climate change science leading up to the primaries. Frontrunner Romney opposes carbon emissions limits and a cap and trade program, despite having supported pollution limits as Massachussets governor.
Of course, the future of energy policy also hinges on political developments worldwide. The report also notes that elections worldwide, particularly France, will be an “important test of the resilience of pro-nuclear policies” in a post-Fukushima world.