U.S. and German approaches to energy and climate change have undergone significant change in recent years. New technologies such as “fracking,” higher efficiency standards, and national energy strategies like the “Energiewende” have an impact at the local, regional, and international levels. AICGS explores where both countries can learn and cooperate on questions of energy policy, energy security, and climate change.

Conditions for U.S. climate and energy policy have changed considerably after comprehensive climate and energy legislation failed in the 111th Congress. In the newly elected 112th Congress, emphasis will likely shift away from climate change to more orthodox supply side energy strategies. Writing from a European perspective, Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy in Europe and a regular contributor to the Advisor, explores the consequences of these U.S. changes for the European Union’s climate and energy strategy as well as for a future international climate regime.

While environmental concerns have recently taken a backseat to the economic and financial crisis, scientific projections on climate change continue to call for action. Yet, international cooperation has been hampered and a rift between developed and developing nations is increasingly evident. Companies from developed countries are interested in recouping their investments in clean energy technology through property rights; developing nations contend, however, that such technology must be made available to all nations. This Policy Report, featuring essays from Robert Percival and Miranda Schreurs, examines American and German views on this contentious issue, focusing on what roles technology transfer and intellectual property rights play in the climate policy debate.

In Policy Report #43, “Promoting Energy Innovation and Investment Through Transatlantic Transfer of Community Energy Policies,” Dale Medearis, Peter Garforth, and Stefan Blüm look to the European Union and Germany to draw lessons about community energy planning at the national and sub-national levels that can be transferred to the U.S. The authors examine issues such as the integration of land-use and transportation planning policies and the development of finance mechanisms and performance measures for energy efficient building construction.

After World War II, both East and West Germany were focused on reconstruction and promoting economic development, and very little attention was given to environmental protection in the quest to rebuild. In this Transatlantic Perspectives essay, Professor Miranda Schreurs, Director of the Environmental Policy Research Centre and a regular participant in AICGS programs, examines how Germany transitioned from an environmental mess to become a global environmental leader, focusing on a transition of values as well as the role of unification in this process.

The transport sector accounts for one-fourth of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the European Union and almost one-third in the United States, and both sides of the Atlantic have tackled this issue with regulatory standards. In his Transatlantic Perspectives essay, DAAD/AICGS Fellow Carl-Friedrich Elmer examines the general economic rationale for mandatory vehicle emission standards as well as crucial factors that determine the environmental efficacy and economic efficiency of this regulatory approach, also looking at how such standards can be embedded in the broader context of climate policy.

“The political system pushes the parties toward the middle,” “party homogeneity is
rather weak” … in Germany’s antiquated libraries, students might pick up these
messages from text books about the U.S. political system. We all know that today’s
reality is a different one. Over the last twenty-five years or so, the U.S. electorate has
drifted further and further apart. The election of Ronald Reagan marks the beginning
of the U.S. shift to the right in the 1980s. The two Bush presidents and even Bill
Clinton—“it’s the economy, stupid!”—continued Reagan’s doctrine of the supremacy of
a preferably untamed capitalism. The chimera of “the invisible hand of the market” has
become an imperative of all political action, and arguably hit the “soft issue” of
environmental protection even more than others …

AICGS recently completed a project to address the climate and energy challenges with the generous support of the Daimler-Fonds im Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, resulting in this Issue Brief and the following three Policy Reports which focus on some of the many aspects of the climate and energy puzzle.
In AICGS Issue Brief 29, Tim Stuchtey and Kirsten Verclas analyze the policy recommendations that come from the three Policy Reports and look at the political implications of these recommendations, focusing on emission trading, biofuels, and current climate-friendly technologies.

In AICGS Policy Report 37, “The Short-Term Potential of Climate-Friendly Technologies,” Felix Chr. Matthes and Lewis J. Perelman examine the technological solutions that can make a substantial impact on climate protection and energy security today or in the near future. The authors look specifically at the crucial roles of energy efficiency and intelligent energy in both Germany and the United States.

Authors Bruce A. McCarl and Tobias Plieninger focus on the role biofuels can play in addressing climate change and improving energy security in AICGS Policy Report 36, “Bioenergy in the United States and Germany,” exploring opportunities for German-American cooperation in this extremely important sector.

In AICGS Policy Report 35, “Climate Change and Energy Security: Lessons Learned,” Joseph E. Aldy, Camilla Bausch, and Michael Mehling draw on the experiences in Germany and the U.S. with regard to their climate and energy policies and include an examination of the key actors in politics and the economy on both sides of the Atlantic.

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