This month, China and the U.S. concluded a deal to “phase down” emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a highly polluting form of greenhouse gas. In an email interview, Adam Moser, assistant director of the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law at Vermont Law School, explained the difficulty the U.S. and China have had on climate change cooperation and the significance of the recent agreement.
WPR: What in the past has limited cooperation between the U.S. and China on climate change?
Adam Moser: First, both countries have domestic political situations and interest groups that have contributed to their limited cooperation on climate change, and both have political economies that rely heavily on fossil fueled growth for legitimacy. At the international level, the U.S. Senate’s unanimous support in 1997 for the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which influenced the United States' nonparticipation in the Kyoto Protocol, was and remains a major hurdle to cooperation.