U.S. Climate Policy
In 2008, the Obama Administration set a target that the U.S. would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 17% by 2020 (compared to 2005 levels). According to WRI’s 2010 analysis, the 17% target is still within reach, but it will require a sustained effort in 2012 and beyond.
In 2012, the Obama Administration has significant opportunities to cut emissions – but it remains to be seen how far it will be willing to go. This year you cannot answer the question of whether the Administration will be aggressive without considering the political context even more than usual.
At the state level, California will be putting in place the foundation for their new cap-and-trade program; and the RGGI states will be doing a program review in 2012.
U.S. Presidential Election
It is amazing how quickly things can change in politics. Back in 2008, both Democratic and Republican candidates supported national action to address climate change.
Now, the obvious story to watch is how environmental issues play out in the 2012 campaign. This will, in part, set the stage for what happens in the next presidential administration.
Will President Obama leverage his environment and public health record and position himself in contrast to the more extreme strains of the GOP? Will he lean into these issues or distance himself from them?
On the Republican side, will the presumed candidate embrace anti-EPA rhetoric, using it as a prime example of government overreach? Or will he pivot back toward more moderate positions as the general election begins?