President-Elect Obama Discusses Climate Change

“My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change,” Obama said in a video message to governors and others attending a Los Angeles summit on the issue.

In the roughly four-minute message, Obama reiterated his support for a cap-and-trade system approach to cutting green house gases. He would establish annual targets to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them another 80 percent by 2050. Obama also promoted anew his proposal to invest $15 billion each year to support private sector efforts toward clean energy.


Is anyone else quite as excited as I am to hear him talking this way? I know it’s a little strange, considering it’s not novel thinking or behaviour – it’s a resumption of the way things should have been all along – but it feels like this great weight has been lifted. After 8 years of denial by the Bush White House and right-wing in general, Obama’s out and out saying there’s no room for debate or discussion about whether we need to do something to combate climate change, it’s now down to what’s to be done, how much, by whom and when.

“My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security, and create millions of new jobs in the process.”

This further comment in his address to the opening session of the Global Climate Summit was quite telling, pairing climate change and national security, echoing the Phoenix Initiative’s approach to foreign policy. There seems little doubt now that his approach as president to issues such as climate change, oil dependence, nuclear proliferation and counterterrorism will be rooted in this post-Cold War and post-War on Terror perspective. That’s sure change I can believe in.


7 responses to “President-Elect Obama Discusses Climate Change

  1. I think this is one reason why many people, including I, were so excited and happy and optimistic on Election night when he won the thing.

    Because no matter how disappointing or incompetent or inexperienced or underwhelming he proves to be as President, there is a feeling at least that he leans in the right direction – towards progress, towards a more internationalist, environmentally conscious, socially liberal USA.

    Considering the last eight years, that’s already change I can believe in. I mean, the scary thought is what Shrub and his cronies might have achieved if they’d actually prove to have even basic levels of competence. The reason the world isn’t in an even bigger mess right now (and it’s bad enough), is that they were so fucking useless. Scary.

    Nice to know that in a couple of months I will be able to lift my self-imposed travel ban to the USA.

  2. Just as Europe and the rest of the world abandons any pretense of caring? Sounds about right.

  3. I can’t speak for the rest of Europe, but whilst the current British Prime Minister is a disaster in environmental policy, his all-too-certain opposition (conservative) successor remains 100% committed to substantial policy change.

    And I’m not sure what difference it would make if your point were true. The greatest problem in implementing effective policies for climate change over the last 8 years has been Bush – plain and simple. With Obama in charge of the biggest polluter in the world, and committing not just to colossal emissions drops, but a change in foreign policy in order to enable them, there seems little doubt to me (at this stage I admit) that the rest of the world will have an example there’ll be any point in following.

  4. Did I miss an annoucement from the EU renouncing global warming or something?

    From what I’ve seen, Europe’s position on the subject hasn’t changed – just that, like on most things, they’re incompetent about actually delivering real change rather than eloquent commitments.

  5. I suppose mentioning that the Senate voted not to ratify Kyoto, because it would crater the economy and leave out developing countries, is pointless? Or the fact that no country that did ratify it reached it’s goals, or that it’s stated goals actually fell in the realm of natural temperature variance?

    Personally I think we should be focused on soot reduction and not overly concerned with CO2. Soot from airplanes is the most likely culprit of arctic ice melting and also the leading cause of lung problems in major cities. Also I’ve mentioned this before but china did surpass the US this year in pollution production.
    Irregardless of all that, during the 2007 Bali Roadmap meeting the US pledged to work with the rest of the world in implementing the next round of pollution controls to be completed in 2009.

    @Scoops yes Merkel and several other leaders recently said they didn’t want to talk about any more caps on emissions fearing that it may slow down or further strain their industrial base which is already hurting. Sorry I’ve been looking for the article and I just can’t find it at the moment. So the EU’s position is to talk nice but do nothing? Cause that’s really nothing I didn’t already know.

  6. Fact is, in Europe it’s been a rather convenient stance for some leaders to talk big, do nothing, and blame Bush – his foolish intransigence has provided political cover for them.

    An America fully engaged on the issue might force some of them to start putting money where their mouths are.

    Will be interesting to see if they’re capable of doing so. Rather than whining about economic damage, they’d do well to do what Obama is doing and look on it as an opportunity to spread a bit of the old Keynes magic and do some public spending on green energy projects while things are bad – and it’s win-win for when growth comes around again because of the long term legacy and environmental benefits.

  7. I’d prefer the stability and dependability of nuke plants personally. nothing else has the production capabilities of actually meeting our needs without creating pollution or a giant footprint like the wind farms.

    yes they used Bush as a foil but only because people let them. I don’t foresee the future as being much different. Specially with the current downturn and budget crisis that is going to stick around for awhile. Maybe I’m wrong and should be more optimistic however.

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