New US climate strategy opens up old faultlines with Europe

Academic Dean Kelly Sims Gallagher is asked about the differences between the EU and US’ climate strategies in Financial Times
Kelly Sims Gallagher

The Biden administration marked the US return to international climate leadership this week with ambitious plans to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But the move also resurfaced some old faultlines.

The climate goal put the US broadly on par with the EU, which this week sealed the terms of a European law that commits the bloc to reducing emissions by at least 55 per cent over the decade, against 1990 levels. The US goal is based on 2005 emission levels.

Although cheered on in Europe, the US climate comeback masks divergent approaches between the two economic powerhouses on how to win the so-called race to net zero.


“A key difference is that many European countries have passed climate legislation, and this gives them much more authority to design and implement policies consistent with their international commitments” says Kelly Sims Gallagher, a former senior Obama White House official who helped negotiate the 2014 US-China climate accord. “The US lacks this comprehensive legislation and instead has pursued a patchwork approach with limited authorities”.

“[The Biden Administration] is perhaps underestimating the scepticism from the international community that the US can get back on track with its domestic policy.”

Read More