Delegates and experts at this year's annual UN climate negotiations want to know whether Barack Obama can deliver on his ambitious plans to slash greenhouse gas emissions at home. But they also want to know how he'll engage the world. What does he want from China and India? What is he willing to give them in return? What are his goals for a new UN treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol? Vague promises to play nice won't do--negotiations will go nowhere without a clear U.S. agenda. It's not apparent, though, that the Obama team knows yet what it wants to do.
The report of a task force I recently directed--Confronting Climate Change: A Strategy for U.S. Foreign Policy--lays out a plan that the President-elect would be smart to follow. The task force was chaired by two former governors and brought together twenty nine leaders with backgrounds in business, government, labor, and academia, including several who will play key roles in a new Obama administration. We called on the President to leverage ambitious action at home to advance a broad foreign policy agenda, including a five-point strategy for UN climate negotiations.