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Q&A with Michael Levi on the Copenhagen Conference

Author: Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies
December 15, 2009
Foreign Affairs


Dan: In your articles leading up to the Copenhagen conference, there is a fair amount of criticism of other countries, especially China. There does not, however, seem to be an equally critical view of the United States, both for its status as the world's largest historical polluter and the lukewarm attitude of the U.S. government and people in addressing this problem. Many people around the world have concluded that the United States is trying to evade its responsibilities. Do you think the United States can continue to dictate the behavior of others while not doing anything substantial itself?

A: The United States needs to step up its own efforts if it is to be effective internationally. Recent moves to tighten automobile fuel-economy standards, bolster clean technology through the stimulus package, and threaten Environmental Protection Agency regulation are steps in that direction, but the United States will need comprehensive climate and energy legislation if it wants to be a genuine leader. This will be necessary not only to cut its own emissions but also to deliver on promises of money to help with mitigation and adaptation that it has recently made to others.

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