Obama Promises Prompt and Aggressive Action on Climate

In a short speech delivered yesterday to the bipartisan Governors Climate Summit, Obama pledged in very strong words to not delay action on climate because of the economy and to proceed as he promised with creation of a cap-and-trade carbon reduction program. The speech, which the avowedly liberal political blog Talking Points Memo appears to have been the first to post, can be viewed at its website. The speech also is reported in the lead story in todayâ''s New York Times, a general status report about the Obama transition.

In the 3 minute, 53 second talk to the governors, Obama said that climate change together with energy dependence threaten the U.S. economy and the countryâ''s national security. He pledged to create a carbon trading system that would get U.S. carbon emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below that by 2050, and to renew U.S. world leadership on global warming, working cooperatively with other nations. He said that from now on, any U.S. governor seeking to reduce emissions and any company seeking to develop green technology will have an ally in the White House.

Obama said he will fund research on wind and solar energy and next-generation biofuels, and encourage more reliance on nuclear energy thatâ''s safe and coal thatâ''s clean. â''Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer and option,â'' he said at the close of his speech. At the beginning he said: â''The science is beyond dispute, and the facts are clear.â''

Note: though Obama promised to set demanding national targets for annual carbon reductions, his goal of getting emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 still falls far short of the target set in the Kyoto Protocol, which was a 7 percent reduction from the 1990 level by 2012. The United States has sat on its hands for eight years, while countries like the United Kingdom and Germany have forged ahead with concerted efforts to cut emissions and develop green technology. It will be years before the United States will be in a position to assert true leadership on climate. For the foreseeable future, however hard Obama tries, it will be playing catch-up ball.


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