"And following the steps we’ve taken in the United States, many of the G20 countries agreed to work to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles, which would be another major step in reducing emissions."
President Obama remarks at G20 Press Conference | November 16, 2014
As depicted in John Kingdon's seminal work, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policy, a policy entrepreneur is someone who looks for the right political and bureaucratic conditions to press his or her pet proposal. In this case of entrepreneurship, I started with an idea for something G20 leaders could do to cut greenhouse gases: collectively commit themselves to boost motor vehicle fuel economy. After I laid the ground through coalition-building and meetings with senior officials in Washington and other capitals, it was gratifying when the November 2014 Brisbane G20 Summit commissioned a new task group on fuel economy—to be coordinated by the United States and with my coalition partners serving as expert resources.
In this case, the advocacy was aimed at affecting high-level diplomacy. Just like Kingdon's policy entrepreneur, advocates must couch their proposals as solutions to the problems policymakers feel responsible for solving. For a diplomatic process such as the G20, it's a question of the sort of measures (aka "deliverables") the heads of government want to announce at their summit.
Looking at the G20 role on climate change, I saw a high-profile global forum under-performing on the great global challenge of our time. Not only did the group have the means to do more, I expected G20 leaders would feel a mounting sense of responsibility to produce meaningful outcomes on climate. At the outset, my idea was based on two premises: 1) the most significant climate action of President Obama's first term was to raise fuel economy standards and 2) these kinds of regulations could be well suited for the world's major economies to take collective action.
The G20's consultation process for think tank analysts was a perfect setting to crystallize possible actions world leaders could take. As part of the Think20 process for Brisbane, I worked with the auto industry's Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) and regulatory experts from the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) on a menu of options for G20 action. READ MORE
With underwriting from GFEI, Climate Advisers joined with Center for American Progress (CAP) to produce a report, "Accelerating Global Vehicle Efficiency," giving a much more detailed analysis of prospects for collective action. One of the CAP coauthors was Peter Ogden; back when Pete worked on climate policy in the Obama White House, he was among the first people with whom I broached my idea. READ MORE
In the G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan issued at the Brisbane summit, fuel economy was one of three areas identified as involving "new G20-led work in which participating countries will address an emerging challenge or a gap in existing international collaboration." Echoing our earlier menu of options, the plan discussed heavy-duty as well as passenger vehicles, clean fuels, tailpipe emissions, and green freight programs. It also singled out my coalition partners GFEI and ICCT as key resources for the new IPEEC Transport Task Group to rely upon. READ MORE