Bill Clinton was famous for saying during his 1992 presidential campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.” In the realm of international climate change negotiations from Lima to Paris, it’s fair to say “it’s the nationally determined contributions, mon ami.” Deliberately intended to connect the UNFCCC goal (of keeping global warming below 2 or 1.5 Celsius) more concretely with national political and economic agendas, the inclusion of NDCs in the upcoming Paris agreement necessarily puts national climate change policy and politics in the spotlight.
Hence these two articles jumped out at me this morning.
The first one, out of Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication, reports a split among U.S. Republican voters’ views on climate change, finding “a more complex – and divided – Republican electorate.” The Center concludes that “solid majorities of self-identified moderate and liberal Republicans – who comprise 30% of the party – think global warming is happening (62% and 68% respectively). By contrast, 38% of conservative Republicans think global warming is happening. At the extreme, Tea Party Republicans (17% of the party) are the most dismissive – only 29% think global warming is happening.” For analysis of Republican voter reactions to specific questions about EPA climate change regulation, read more here. It’s thought provoking to read this new research in light of the poll data we blogged about last week (that found more than two-thirds of likely 2016 voters support the EPA’s power plant rule, including 87% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans). Likewise, the recent news that Tom Steyer – a “billionaire environmentalist” and creator of the NextGen Climate superPAC – is strongly considering a run for retiring Barbara Boxer’s California Senate seat. It makes one bullish about the potential for U.S. domestic political discussion on climate change to move closer to the front burner. Put together, they signal bonnes nouvelles for the national political will needed for ambitious U.S. NDCs, due to be communicated internationally as the UNFCCC negotiations reprise in Geneva in less than a month.
The second article looks outside the U.S. to India’s current role in the international climate change negotiations and its domestic preparation for NDCs. The Guardian reports on President Obama’s upcoming visit to India and trips that Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. senior officials plan to make with an intention to woo India as a strategic partner in the climate change negotiations. Sound familiar? As we blogged last week on the back story of the U.S.-China climate change announcement made in November, the U.S. appears to be taking a page from this playbook. We look forward to hearing more news from Delhi by the end of January, well before the U.S. and EU are due to report their NDCs to the UNFCCC Secretariat.
January 13 update: Scientific American reports that “when Obama and Modi meet in India on Jan. 26, few are expecting the type of landmark bilateral agreement of the type the United States struck in Beijing last year. . . . India, like any other country, doesn’t want to look like it’s simply playing catch-up with what the U.S. and China did. They would want to make it their own, not a U.S.-China redux,” said Peter Ogden, a senior energy fellow at the Center for American Progress. SA also points out that Kerry’s trip last weekend focused on solar development deals, given India’s ambitious clean energy goals. This focus is reinforced in the India press as well, here and here. Also, keep an eye on the Center for American Progress’s India 2020 Initiative for timely info and analysis of its “dream that in 2020 the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States. If that occurs, the world will be a safer place.”