Published December 24, 2008
The German government has launched an initiative to engage American businesses and the government and find ways to cooperate on reducing carbon emissions, which most scientists believe are causing temperatures to rise.
After years of U.S. inaction on global warming, European officials are hoping President-elect Barack Obama will commit to mandatory cuts in emissions.
Germany's ambassador to Washington, Klaus Scharioth, said Tuesday that he is optimistic that Obama will move quickly on the issue.
"I think it is no coincidence that the first video message after his election given by the president-elect was on climate change and energy," Scharioth said in an Associated Press interview ahead of an event promoting the German initiative, called "The Transatlantic Climate Bridge."
The initiative is aimed at developing partnerships between the two countries to find new ways to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency. Germany already has talked to officials of individual U.S. states and local governments and now hopes to engage the new federal administration.
In December 2009, diplomats are to forge a new treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set limits on greenhouse gases and which the United States did not ratify. This time European officials have high expectations for the United States to take the lead.
"We are very much aware of the fact that we can only succeed in convincing the rest of the world that something needs to be done about climate change, if we can convince the United States," Scharioth said. "The Obama administration will work extremely hard."
Obama, a Democrat, is stacking his Cabinet and inner circle with advocates who have pushed for deep mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas pollution and even with government officials who have achieved results at local levels.
The president-elect has said that one of the first things he will do when he gets to Washington is grant California and other states permission to control car tailpipe emissions, which the Bush administration denied.
And although congressional action may take time, the next Congress, with its larger Democratic majorities, will be more inclined to act on global warming.