Race to the Top for Climate

Building a cooperative agenda for a globally inter-operable clean economy transition.

Race to the Top explores how US and EU industrial decarbonization policy can be designed to optimize inter-operability and enable an international race to the top for heavy-industry decarbonisation.

Through a co-creative research exercise, it seeks to create actionable knowledge and help establish the foundations for longer-term EU-US stakeholder dialogue on industrial decarbonisation policy.

Year: 2023 Current Project

  • Overview

    In recent years, major economies have developed extensive climate policy packages to decarbonise heavy industries. These policies provide a strong domestic signal for a clean industry transition.

    Throughout the formulation of these policy packages, it is natural that each country will pursue its best interests and leverage its political opportunities to deliver benefits for its workers and citizens. Yet, recent events have indicated a competitive race that is, at times, combative, for a sector that is critical to national interests, high-emitting, and trade-sensitive.

    This trend risks greater fragmentation, zero-sum outcomes, and long-term disconnects between each region’s climate strategies, undermining global climate progress. Without conscious efforts to explore potential areas of alignment, we run the risk of falling into a ‘race to the bottom’ and missing the opportunity for accelerated industrial decarbonization nationally and globally.

    Ideally, a balance should be struck, where each nation’s independent effort would also aim to maximize the potential for our evolving policy frameworks and markets to become more interoperable, self-reinforcing, and more likely to deliver local benefits while solving the global climate crisis.

    The Race to the Top project provides an opportunity for both sides of the Atlantic to collaboratively shape the debate on policy options and support a global race to the top for climate. The EU-US relationship currently has great potential to pilot the development of a more cooperative agenda on industrial decarbonisation.

    Through a research exercise, ‘Race to the Top’ seeks to provide actionable knowledge on industrial decarbonisation policy and form a basis for EU-US stakeholder dialogue. The project explores ideas ranging from immediately actionable to long-term and aspirational – recognizing that current politics are volatile on both sides of the Atlantic, competition is intense, and policy designs must consider systems impacts among a variety of diverse policy frameworks.

    The project integrates a co-creative research process, whereby stakeholders will get to actively engage at different stages of the report’s preparation. Throughout its timeline, Race to the Top will maximize the synergies between analytical work and stakeholder engagement, in order to ensure relevant and comprehensive policy recommendations.

    This project is carried out in collaboration with the Reform Institute. It is made possible through the funding and support of the Environmental Defense Fund.

  • Partners

    Reform Institute is the Polish independent think tank that supports the continuous improvement of formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of public policies in Poland, Europe and globally.

  • Publications