Although overshadowed by the financial tumult of recent months, there is little doubt that with the new White House administration will come significant changes in both the US stance on climate change internationally and in Federal legislation.
Energy and climate change played a significant role on the campaign trail with President Barak Obama’s platform including stimulus for alternative energy sources and an emissions cap and trade scheme promising to deliver significant cuts to emissions over coming decades.
Campaign commitments on climate and energy included:
- Reducing the US greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, then by 80% by 2050
- Targeting 10% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2012
- 25 % of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2025
- A doubling of research funding for clean energy
- Subsidies for carmakers for new-generation clean cars
Obama spoke of new energy to harness in his inaugural speech, following similar sentiments expressed on the campaign trail: “A clean-energy economy can be the engine that drives us into the future in the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades.”
With a lack of US legislation relating to global warming-causing GHG emissions, some voluntary programmes have emerged...
It was even mentioned in his acceptance speech, “As we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.” And more recently, in the midst of the financial crisis, he has restated his intention to launch a carbon trading scheme to a climate summit of state governors.
Clean energy also holds a significant place in Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package, promising job creation in a fledgling US “green economy”.
Although no time commitment has been made from the Obama camp, key players are anxious to maintain the momentum, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair, Barbara Boxer being one. She has stated publicly that she plans to introduce a climate change bill to the new Congress that convened in January.
On the international front, the annual conference of the UN climate convention in Poznan, Poland convened last autumn. It included two weeks of talks which aimed to make progress towards a new global climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. Obama did not attend in person but sent his own team of negotiators.
News from these talks indicated signs to move forward with carbon regulation, in the form of emissions trading schemes.