Wednesday November 12, 2014

Climate of Change

University of Dayton climate and environmental policy experts weigh in on the climate agreement between China and the U.S. Both say it's a step in the right direction.

Bob Brecha, director of research for the University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute, says the climate deal struck between China and the United States has the potential to jumpstart international efforts to limit climate change and transform the world's energy system. 

"There has been an impasse for at least a decade in getting international climate change mitigation goals off the ground," said Brecha, who has been a visiting scientist at the Potsdam (Germany) Institute for Climate Impact Research the past nine summers. "As the two largest emitters, China and the U.S. faulted each other for inaction, but this agreement could be the breakthrough that many have waited for. In the absence of a comprehensive international agreement, this is a good start." 

He also commended the framework of the agreement in which each nation accepted responsibility for past emissions, rather than casting blame, and recognized the need for economic development in China.

Michelle Pautz, a University of Dayton associate professor of political science who researches environmental policy, regulation and government accountability, advises on a wait-and-see approach. 

"It is a step forward, particularly in advance of next year's Taipei convention, but it remains to be seen if anything tangible will come from it," she said. "What sort of enforcement mechanisms are built in to the agreement to ensure compliance? Historically with international environmental agreements, everyone says they are going to do something, but if no one does, what's the penalty? What's the recourse?" 

Pautz also noted, that although this is an executive agreement that does not need Senate confirmation, Congress still could thwart any efforts by the Obama White House to implement it.

"With the election results last week and the Congress firmly under the control of Republicans, I doubt there will be much action of any sort related to the environment," Pautz said.

Brecha is available for interviews after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12; 10 a.m.-noon Thursday, Nov. 13; and 9-10 a.m. and 11 a.m.-noon Friday, Nov. 14. Media are also welcome to call Brecha at home in the evenings. Media can reach Brecha at 937-229-2727 (office), 937-768-3946 (cell) or 937-767-1348 (home). Media can contact Pautz for interviews at mpautz1@udayton.edu. Media also can contact Shawn Robinson at 937-229-3391 or srobinson1@udayton.edu.

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