A change in leadership usually results in changes in policies or at least in some policies; it’s only natural as a new leader will surely aspire to improve on his/her predecessor’s achievements and try to succeed where he/she failed. According to an article in the Guardian, Obama is no different; his advisors told the Guardian that he will ‘shred the Bush administration’s energy policies and introduce a major climate change bill in an attempt to bring the US back into the international environment’. Read on to find out about some of his plans with regard to the environment and his expected cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
An 80% reduction in GHG by 2050 is planned through a cap-and-tradesystem with carbon permits auctioned off to industries to encouragethem to reduce emissions (see Obama’s report here). Interestingly,this is also Britain’s target (80% by 2050) and would also see the USovertake Europe, which is only committed to cutting 60% of GHGemissions by then. His energy representatives will no doubt be activelyinvolved in the UN’s climate change talks in Poznan, Poland in lessthan three weeks time.
We all remember Al Gore’s alarming report on global warming, butaccording to Dr. Steve Chu (Nobel prize-winning professor of physicsand molecular biology and director of the Lawrence Berkeley NationalLaboratory) things are worse. Professor Chu has re-directed hisresearch career so as to address climate change; he finds it disturbingthat, despite the release of the IPCC report in 2007, the public’sperception of the crisis seems weak. He said in a conversation withthe Copenhagen Climate Council that we underestimate the risk andignore the fact that the planet is threatened with ‘sudden,unpredictable, and irreversible disaster’. He added that the 4th andmost recent IPCC report concluded there’s a 90% chance that the globalwarming we are observing is caused by humans. Dr. Chu feels we mustfocus the public’s attention on the regional and local impacts ofclimate change, because these are the changes that will affect theirlives. This suggests Obama’s plan has a chance to be effective, as it’saiming at starting with local issues. An analysis by Obama’s SeniorEnergy and Environment advisor Professor Dan Kammen, from the Energyand Resources Group, at the University of California, Berkeley, saysthe energy plan Obama put forward during the election campaign aims tocreate a clean energy sector which will create 5 million new‘cleantech’ jobs, one million hybrid cars and the economy-widecap-and-trade programme mentioned above.
I think when a Nobel prize-winning physics professor is alarmed aboutwhat is happening to the planet and the newly-elected US president’s advisormade sure the US will start to seriously address the climate crisis, weshould be too. At CABI we are very aware of these changes and havecreated THE Environment Impact database, which includes the latestresearch results on the subject.