Obama Calls for Carbon Trading Scheme, Vows Strong Action on Climate
US President-elect Barack Obama pledged on Tuesday to “engage vigorously” on climate change issues upon entering office in January.
“Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security,” he said in a surprise video message to a summit of government officials from the US and abroad.
“Too often,” Obama said, Washington has failed to match the leadership displayed by various US governors and required on an international level in order to confront the challenges posed by climate change.
“That will change when I take office,” Obama vowed. “My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change.”
Obama repeated his proposals for action, including a federal cap and trade system and a goal to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, with an additional 80 percent emission reduction by 2050. To support this goal and in an effort to make the US more energy independent, Obama has earmarked an annual amount of US$ 15 billion to invest in private sector progress on clean energy.
Opponents of such a high level of engagement say that making aggressive commitments to cut greenhouse gases would do more harm than good to the US economy.
But the President-elect answered critics by saying that his green policy could be a way through the current financial crisis: “It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.”
But Obama qualified his remarks by noting that the global threat of climate change requires a global response. Attention will now turn to Poznan, Poland, where government officials from around the world will gather in early December for a meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Although Obama will not be present for the talks, he has asked members of Congress attending the conference to report back to him.
“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious,” Obama warned.
Convened by the Republican governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Bi-Partisan Governors Global Climate Summit was held earlier this week in Los Angeles.
ICTSD reporting; “Obama affirms climate change goals,” THE NEW YORK TIMES, 18 November 2008; “Obama vows climate change ‘engagement’,” BBC, 18 November 2008.
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