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King Coal’s Pyrrhic Victory

BRUSSELS – Sometimes the most important news is what is not happening. This summer has given us one such example: the climate-change bill, for which President Barack Obama had pushed so hard, will not even be presented to the United States Senate, because it stands no chance of passage.

This means that the US is about to repeat its “Kyoto experience.” Twenty years ago, in 1990, the US participated (at least initially) in the first global talks aimed at achieving a global accord to reduce CO2 emissions. At the time, the European Union and the US were by far the greatest emitters, so it seemed appropriate to exempt the world’s emerging economies from any commitment. Over time, it became apparent that the US would not live up to its commitment, owing, as now, to opposition in the Senate. The EU then went ahead on its own, introducing its path-breaking European Emission Trading System in the hope that Europe could lead by example.