Climate + Energy

Our political, policy and diplomatic expertise shapes climate and energy solutions

A Carbon Tax and Global Trade: New Ideas for American Competitiveness

To be environmentally effective, climate policies need to protect against simply shifting pollution from one country to another.  To be politically sustainable, climate policies need to create a level playing field for domestic manufacturers and their international competitors.  Measures to achieve these goals, such as levies and rebates on imported and exported goods to equalize climate costs (border measures) also need to comply with international trade laws.

To inform public debate on these issues, Climate Advisers analyzed whether carbon border measures would comply with World Trade Organization obligations.

This study, published with the American Acton Forum and the German Marshall Fund, found that carbon border measures could indeed be applied in a way that met competitiveness and environmental objectives without violating U.S. trade obligations. We also found that allocating the revenue from a border measure to international climate programs would further strengthen the legal case.

America must address climate change to be competitive on the world stage – and we can do it in a way that addresses both policy and political concerns.

A New Paradigm for Climate Agreements : Securing U.S. Participation

Nations are more likely to take action on climate change when they believe other countries will do the same.  That’s why the world needs new international climate agreements – to create transparency, ensure political accountability and spur progress.  Most nations understand, however, that the U.S. Constitution requires the approval of two-thirds of the Senate for the United States to ratify a new climate treaty.

Climate Advisers created the first legal analysis answering the riddle of how to negotiate a strong international climate agreement that did not necessitate a supermajority in the Senate.  The answer is for the United States to negotiate climate change executive agreements.

Unlike treaties, executive agreements are entered into either solely by the President based on previously delegated constitutional, treaty or statutory authority; or by the President and Congress together through the enactment of an ordinary statute.

Both U.S. and international negotiators are keeping this advice firmly in mind as they elaborate the content of new climate agreements in order to secure the widest possible participation, including from the United States.

Advising the Senate on Global Climate Talks

Politics should stop at the water’s edge, but on climate change that is rarely the case. Yet U.S. and global interests are best served when the United States negotiates internationally from a position of strength, with the President and Congress aligned around a common foreign policy.

When President Obama took office, there was a real risk that U.S. efforts to negotiate on climate abroad would be undermined by domestic partisan – and intra-party – disagreements. There was a precedent: in 1997, President Clinton endorsed the Kyoto Protocol despite the Senate’s warnings not to do so. A resulting Sense of the Senate resolution was seen as a setback to U.S. climate leadership.

But times change. In 2009, with the Senate actively considering an ambitious climate bill approved by House of Representatives, sixteen moderate Senators sought assurances that a new international climate agreement would require action from all major emitters, including China and India. Wanting to get up to speed quickly, this group of Senators asked Climate Advisers to organize weekly briefings on key issues in global climate talks. Based on these sessions, these Senators came to the conclusion that the approach taken by President Obama made sense and avoided the pitfalls of the past.  Absent this engagement from Climate Advisers, the Senate might easily have rejected the emerging global climate agreement before it was finalized.

Advising the World’s Leading Climate Institutions

Climate Advisers plays an active, ongoing role in helping the world’s most influential climate leaders develop and implement climate strategies. Our partners include national governments, international organizations, major philanthropies, think tanks and NGO advocates. These institutions turn to Climate Advisers to help make sense of evolving political and policy conditions in Washington, DC and around the world, as well as for creative political strategies, innovative policy solutions and transformative data analysis.

Recently, Climate Advisers has partnered with the governments of the United States, Japan, Norway and Denmark, as well as the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and the UN Secretary-General to elevate new policy ideas and promote international climate cooperation.

We have advised the boards and leadership of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, Energy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Gordon & Better Moore Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

We have strategic relationships with many of the world’s leading climate think tanks, including The Brookings Institution, Center for American Progress, Center for Global Development and Resources for the Future – and we frequently organize joint events and publish cobranded reports. And we have prepared original political and policy analysis for the world’s most recognized environment and development advocates, including World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oxfam and Union of Concerned Scientists.