Obama promises "new chapter" in climate leadership
Barack Obama delivered a brief video message Wednesday to the Governors' Global Climate Summit in Beverly Hills, Calif., in which he unequivocally affirmed the scientific basis of climate change and vowed to take action on cutting carbon emissions, in spite of the troubled global economy.
Barack Obama delivered a brief video message Wednesday to the Governors' Global Climate Summit in Beverly Hills, Calif., in which he unequivocally affirmed the scientific basis of climate change and vowed to take action on cutting carbon emissions, in spite of the troubled global economy.Skip to next paragraph
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The president-elect declined, however, to attend next month's climate talks in Poznań, Poland. A number of activists, including Greenpeace and 350.org have been urging him to go, arguing that his presence would send a signal that the United States would is willing to join the rest of the developed world in combating global warming. Obama demurred, saying that "the United States has only one president at a time."
But Obama's message nonetheless represents a strong departure from the climate policies of his predecessor. For years, the Bush White House challenged the validity of manmade global warming, with many critics claiming that the administration deliberately prevented climate scientists from disseminating their findings.
For Obama, "the science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear." The president-elect promised a federal cap-and-trade system that would mandate that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, and then reduced an additional 80 percent by 2050. The government, he said, would invest $15 billion annually "to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future," a future that includes solar power, wind power, safe nuclear energy, next-generation biofuels, and "clean coal," whatever that means.
These efforts, he said, would generate five million new green jobs.
Headed by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bipartisan governors' summit brought together environmental officials and activists and oil executives from Europe, India, and China, along with a few governors of other US states, with a goal of drafting a pledge to work together to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.