Some climate experts have touted the idea of a congressional executive agreement rather than an international treaty, given the difficulties in getting Senate approval.
Climate analysts said they were buoyed by Kerry's general comments on global warming and said they are hoping to see him take a more personal interest in the U.N. treaty negotiations.
A different stylistic approach
"Putting climate change much more at the core of American foreign policy is really in future Secretary Kerry's interest," said Jennifer Morgan, climate and energy director at the World Resources Institute think tank. She called for the United States to develop an international energy strategy and to put climate change and clean energy at the center of new bilateral agreements.
Andrew Light, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, praised current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's track record on climate but said he thinks having a secretary who has attended several U.N. climate meetings will make a difference. Countries have agreed to develop a new international agreement by 2015 that will demand carbon cuts from all emitters, including the United States and China.
"I would expect that he will take more of a front-row seat," Light said. He also pushed for Kerry to use his role to make a case for an international climate agreement to the American public -- something the State Department has so far rarely done.
"One of the things that should happen is that the climate envoy's office should be expanded so that's in their portfolio," Light said. "They really don't have anyone doing a lot of that. They spend more time doing shuttle diplomacy to different capitals than they do doing shuttle diplomacy to different state capitals to get people and the business sector engaged in what can be gained from an international agreement."
Ned Helme, president of the Center for Clean Air Policy, said he doesn't expect new U.S. positions at the international negotiations under Kerry but does expect to see a different stylistic approach.
"I think the tone will change; because of his knowledge of Congress and his knowledge of the countries, he's going to be willing to get out there and speak his mind and find a middle ground," Helme said. "This is a personal thing he truly cares about, and that makes a difference."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500