Obama and Climate Change- initial thoughts

Well, at least we now have a POTUS with the requisite number of chromosomes, so that’s a good start. And you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be swept up just a little bit
He will have to, as the business press and everyone else has been saying, massage expectations downwards. David Rovics has a sensible take.

The blogosphere is, inevitably, awash with punditry. One of the best so far is Obama and Climate Change- does he have what it takes? which refers to Bill “The End of Nature” McKibben’s column “President Obama’s Big Climate Challenge

Another is Strategery 2.0 “What can greens expect from Obama?

For the Obama presidency, there are three biggies:

  1. Get out of Iraq.

  2. Do something about energy and carbon.

  3. Pass healthcare reform.

Based on precedent it’s likely he’d be willing to negotiate or horse trade just about anything else in favor of tackling these three issues.

Now, how does that same strategy translate to climate/energy? The biggies in this area are:

  1. A declining cap on carbon — the linchpin.

  2. Large investments in green R&D and infrastructure.

  3. Regulatory and tax support for clean electricity and alternative fuels.

The first two shape the foundation of the market and the third accelerates new industries within it.

Along the way, there are certain to be environmentalist-irritating concessions. There will be research and pilot-project funding for “clean coal,” oil shale, and liquid coal. Ethanol subsidies are unlikely to be substantially curtailed. There will likely be more oil drilling. Horses will be traded.
Don’t be ridiculous. Nothing will.

Will Obama’s plan keep us below a 2 degree global average temperature rise above pre-Industrial levels?
Don’t be ridiculous. Nothing will.
And here’s an intelligent comment on a blog that lays out some of the reasons.

Obama has lots of eye-catching stuff about increasing renewables. You can expect a solar panel on the White House within a couple of weeks of inauguration. There’s more eye-catching stuff about energy efficiency and “energy security.”

And Obama MAY show up at the Poznan Climate Talks- people want him to– but I suspect he won’t.

What to watch for (i.e. how it could come unstuck, what the major stumbling blocks are)
He has to work with the Democrats in Congress, led by Nancy Pelosi
He has to tell Americans that their long love affair with fossil fuels and NO LIMITS is over.
The Europeans have their bluff called- making promises you don’t think you’ll have to keep is easy, after all…

Where can I find out more information?
His own website’s Energy and Climate pages
Climate Progress– a rather excellent blog by Joseph Romm

Council on Foreign Relations
Pew Centre


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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