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  • Author: Gwynne Taraska, Hardin Lang
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: In recent months, multilateral efforts have produced two historic agreements aimed at improving global security: the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate agreement. The Iran nuclear agreement, which blocks Iran’s nuclear capacity in exchange for a gradual lifting of economic sanctions, was finalized in July and is expected to be implemented imminently. Before negotiations concluded, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which gave Congress a 60-day period in which it could seek to pass a joint resolution of disapproval. On September 10, all but four Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted to filibuster such a resolution. The agreement, which is nonbinding under international law, therefore proceeded without the need for a presidential veto. Concurrently, the country parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, were negotiating an international agreement to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to the effects of climate change. The agreement, which has force under international law, was finalized in Paris on December 12. It obliges countries to submit and update national climate goals and participate in systems to review national and collective progress. In the run-up to the Paris agreement, Congress held several hearings, but there were no developments akin to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. As these two feats of international cooperation were under negotiation, Congress played an unusually involved role in the case of Iran but a more minimal role in the case of Paris. This brief discusses the status of both agreements and explains why the Iran and Paris agreements differ with respect to triggers of congressional intervention.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Multilateral Relatons, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Cathleen Kelly
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travels to the United States for his first state visit, he and President Barack Obama should seize the opportunity to launch a new era of U.S.-Canadian cooperation to curb climate change, accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and safeguard the Arctic. The United States and Canada share far more than borders; the two countries are close allies on key issues, including counterterrorism, the environment, the Arctic, law enforcement, and maritime safety. The two nations also trade more than $2 billion in goods and services daily. Obama and Trudeau’s March meeting will do more than bolster the U.S.-Canadian bond—it will also set the stage for their trilateral meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the North American Leaders’ Summit this spring and could help to catalyze more ambitious climate action globally. The energy ministers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico took steps toward accelerating North American efforts to curb climate change when they jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, in February to expand climate change and clean energy collaboration. Time is running out for President Obama to secure new climate policy breakthroughs and a lasting climate change legacy by the end of his tenure, and this is cause enough for the two like-minded leaders to cement strong bilateral agreements. There are other reasons besides this ticking clock, however, that make Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit an ideal time to advance pro-environment policies.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Regional Cooperation, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Werz
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: Policy communities in the United States and Europe are increasingly identifying climate change, environmental deterioration, water management, and food security as key concerns for development and global governance. The interplay of these trends is visible in the upheavals across the Middle East, with food riots and water disputes illuminating the region’s food insecurity. In the five years before the uprising in Syria, for example, the country experienced one of the worst droughts on record, which decimated wheat production and wiped out livestock. In Yemen, tensions—and outright conflicts—over water rights and illegal wells underpin the ongoing insecurity and anti-government sentiment. There is little question that the effects of climate change will cause more extreme weather events and crop insecurity in the decades to come, and it is reasonable to expect that they will magnify such dangerous problems. A few years ago, the complex interplay of several factors—including droughts in major grain- and cereal-producing regions, increases in biofuel production that reduced grain supplies, and other long-term structural problems—triggered the 2007-2008 world food crisis. The disruptions that this crisis caused affected both developed and developing countries, creating political and economic instability around the world and contributing to social unrest. The crisis highlighted the critical importance of better understanding the interdependencies and cascading effects of decisions made throughout the global food system, as well as how climate change could exacerbate such challenges. The increasing urgency of food and climate security requires greater international cooperation and, more specifically, innovative and forward looking transatlantic policy responses to address these pressing issues. Over the past decade, the links between climate change, food security, and political instability have steadily risen on the global policy agenda, and both adelphi and the Center for American Progress have played a role in bringing attention to their importance. CAP has conducted significant research and analysis on the security effects of climate change, including its effect on human mobility, and has elevated these issues in Washington, D.C. For its part, adelphi has a long track record of raising climate security issues in Europe and in 2015 led an international consortium that prepared a report and knowledge platform for the Group of Seven, or G-7, nations on climate change’s effect on state fragility.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Governance, Food Security, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, Atlantic Ocean, United States of America