The New Transatlantic Clean Energy Agenda

By Claire Langley
Climate & Energy, Transformative Analysis

Despite ongoing political changes in the United States and Germany, the transatlantic allies continue to have deep, shared agendas. At home, both governments want to accelerate economic growth, improve competitiveness, invest in infrastructure and strengthen manufacturing. Abroad, both are committed to fighting terrorism, controlling migration, promoting freedom and enhancing stability in key regions.

On climate change, however, Germany and the United States differ. Germany has embraced a transition to a clean energy economy and has made global climate diplomacy a top priority. Chancellor Merkel has played a leadership role on the international stage to promote climate action, and as host of the 2017 G20 Germany has prioritized climate change as a key pillar. The Trump administration is committed to sweeping away regulations that are deemed harmful and promoting the traditional energy economy, and it is likely to downplay climate diplomacy compared to its predecessor.

Accepting these differences, the surprising truth is that the United States and Germany have tremendously overlapping interests in a wide variety of areas that might collectively be referred to as the clean energy economy. Both countries understand the economic opportunities and security benefits that flow from clean energy.

A new Climate Advisers paper highlights nearly twenty concrete areas for transatlantic cooperation on clean energy, looking both at the domestic and international level. These policy recommendations focus primarily on the economic and security benefits of transatlantic clean energy cooperation. Collectively, the initiatives would help tackle climate change, but one does not need to care about that to support them. Germany and the United States could advance all of the recommendations with a few simple steps.

  • First, the transatlantic partners should create a government-to-government working group to promote useful policy dialogue on the clean energy agenda. The mission of the working group should be to help each nation increase economic growth, enhance industrial competitiveness, create jobs and speed innovation on clean energy. The working group, which would be made up of representatives from several agencies in each government, would be charged with increasing understanding, identifying points of common interest, sharing best practices regarding policies and developing recommendations for action.
  • Second, the United States and Germany should organize an annual clean energy conference designed to bring together U.S. and German companies, state and local policy makers and other key stakeholders in civil society. The objective of these conferences would be to catalyze public-private partnerships, increase private sector investment, promote transatlantic trade and spread best practices for business across the Atlantic and globally.
  • Third, Germany and the United States should launch a new clean energy research and investment initiative designed to pool the know-how and resources of these two leading powers to strengthen their clean energy economies through innovation and science.

In addition to these bilateral measures, the United States and Germany should work together as a high- and time-sensitive priority to launch at the 2017 Hamburg G20 Summit a major new multilateral initiative entitled Creating the 21st Century Clean Energy Economy. The centerpiece of this initiative would be a new set of shared G20 goals on job creation, investment and education in the clean energy sector, backed by a G20 task force to help nations identify and implement nationally-appropriate solutions.


The New Transatlantic Clean Energy Agenda
January 2017
Despite ongoing political changes in the United States and Germany, the transatlantic allies continue to have deep, shared agendas. On climate change, however, Germany and the United States differ. Accepting these differences, the surprising truth is that the United States and Germany have tremendously overlapping interests in a wide variety of areas that might collectively be referred to as the clean energy economy. Both countries understand the economic opportunities and security benefits that flow from clean energy. This paper highlights nearly twenty concrete areas for transatlantic cooperation on clean energy, looking both at the domestic and international level. These policy recommendations focus primarily on the economic and security benefits of transatlantic clean energy cooperation.

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On January 25, 2017

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