Tipping point

Crossroads for US climate policy 1

Authored by: Marcus Carson , Mikael Román

Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  July  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415544764
eBook ISBN: 9780203876213
Adobe ISBN: 9781135998509


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The new American climate and energy agenda is being pursued against a backdrop that differs fundamentally from only a few short years ago. The political winds that carried Obama into the Presidency also bolstered Democratic majorities in Congress to levels not seen in decades. Energy-related CO2 emissions declined for the first time since the 1980s (EIA 2009), driven down by high energy prices and a deep financial crisis that bumped the country off the path of business as usual. Public opinion had drifted noticeably in favour of accepting climate change as a pressing problem. At least initially, Americans appeared increasingly willing to see government intervention as a solution rather than a problem. Even the business community – only recently seen as a largely monolithic opposition to any real effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – was a part of that shift. On the other hand, the economy remained in crisis, and bipartisan cooperation proved to be wishful thinking.

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