Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What does Obama's victory mean for action on global warming?

Damian Carrington in his Environment blog at the Guardian (UK) makes hopeful noises about the US election results: ...So far, so good. But what action can we expect from Obama, at home and abroad? First, the good omens. Climate change was cited in his victory speech, albeit among 2000 other words: "We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."

A second-term President is unencumbered by the need to seek re-election, meaning - in theory - he is free to be bold. Furthermore, it is a clear advantage to have a president who understands the threat climate change leading the world's biggest historical polluter in the make-or-break year of 2015. That is when the globe's nations must finally hammer out an international deal to combat global warming. If, as some rumours suggest, John Kerry will be his new secretary of state, then he will have an able and motivated ally in clinching an agreement to cut carbon emissions.

Domestically, the good omens are that Obama is well placed to continue his drive to control greenhouse gas emissions through the Environmental Protection Agency, support low-carbon energy and to push through better regulation for the shale gas exploitation which has made the US the world's biggest gas producer.

However, the bad omens are substantial. In 2009, Obama decided climate change was not a winning issue for him and a climate silence descended. He no longer needs to win the White House, but he has to win many other battles, not least reducing the US's stupendous debt and its high unemployment rate....

Obama in 2007, shot by Center for American Progress Action Fund, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

No comments: