Climate Change Policy 2017

I’m no expert, but about everything I’ve read about yesterday’s UN Climate Summit reinforces the impression of two countries, the United States and China, warily circling each other and mutually making progress on carbon emissions as other countries more or less follow. Here’s how the LA Times’ Neela Banerjee and Kathleen Hennessey led off their report:

At a summit Tuesday to kick off the drafting of an international climate change accord, President Obama spoke bluntly of American responsibility for global warming and pledged that ambitious steps would be unveiled over the next year to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama was followed by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, who said that China would put forth a plan in early 2015 to reach a peak in its greenhouse gases “as soon as possible” and scale back emissions thereafter.

The announcements by leaders of the two top emitters of greenhouse gases fed a cautious optimism among many observers that after decades of limited action, the international community is moving to take meaningful steps to address climate change.

Being a political animal and all, I couldn’t help but reflect on what would happen to this slow-moving train if Obama is succeeded by the leader of a party harboring views on climate change that mostly range from We can’t afford to do anything about it to This is all a UN conspiracy to deny us the golf courses and muscle cars God has given us.

Will this be a major campaign issue in 2016? Probably not. Will the rest of the world have a stake in what happens? Oh yes.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.