International Community Distressed Over US Climate Policy Gridlock

The United States is not backing away from its climate change commitments, according to Todd Stern, the country's special envoy for climate change. Photo by: U.S. State Department

European and African climate change leaders are frustrated over the gridlock in U.S. domestic climate policymaking. Several of the leaders voiced their uncertainty about the country’s role in the international climate talks in December.

“Why is it that for the last 20 years the United States is unable to have a bill on climate change? What’s happening? What’s going on? It’s very complicated to understand,” said Brice Lalonde, France’s top negotiator, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. Senate recently abandoned talks on a climate change bill. 

Lalonde stressed that the international community cannot wait for the U.S. to make its move.

“We have to go on. It’s like Kyoto, we just go on,” he said, referring to the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement that the U.S. signed on but did not ratify.

Christiana Figueras, the new U.N. climate change chief, has downplayed the importance of the U.S. climate change bill to international negotiations.

“Whether the United States meets the pledge that it put on the Copenhagen Accord via legislation or whether it meets it via regulation is an internal domestic affair of the United States and one that they need to solve,” Figueras said. “What is clear is that at an international level the United States needs to participate in a a meaningful way, and in a way that is commensurate with its responsibility.”

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, meanwhile, stressed that the country is not backing away from its climate change commitments.

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  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.