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Obama's green agenda could lead world not only US

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Author Topic: Obama's green agenda could lead world not only US  (Read 121 times)
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« on: January 26, 2009, 03:08:08 pm »

International environmental groups have praised evidence of swift change by US President Barack Obama in his inaugural week, saying it could transform Washington from a green "pariah" into a world leader.

Senior officials at WWF and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, told AFP they expected the shift to be felt within a month in domestic legislation and by the year end in global climate change negotiations

"He seems to be moving fast," said Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of the Swiss-based IUCN, a network of conservation groups, governments and companies. "It's super urgent and he knows it."

"The US reducing its (carbon) impact will already have an impact on the rest of the world," she added.

Carter Roberts, president of the US branch of WWF, said the United States was set to move "from being a laggard and even pariah on some issues to being a leader."

"This election is a turning point, not only in the United States and its actions on the environment, but also because it will have a ripple effect around the world," he said by phone during a meeting of WWF International in Switzerland.

Colleagues were deeply impressed by Obama's inaugural speech, citing especially a "multicultural outlook" that promised bridge-building with emerging and developing countries on the environment, they added.

Roberts expected the ripple effect to have an impact on China first.

Although it has set domestic targets, Beijing has been wary about Obama's campaign promises and is reluctant to commit to new international cuts in carbon emissions unless industrialised economies do more.

"I believe China is ready to take the right steps to a lower carbon economy, they want and need to take the steps with the United States," Roberts said.

Marton-Lefevre said: "China could have an impact on the US - let them sit down and talk."

Key targets for Washington mentioned by the two included a green economic stimulus package, with proposals to renovate US power generation and incentives for home energy saving, federal legislation on carbon emissions, a move to end US isolation from a global climate change treaty, and federal policy on nature conservation and biodiversity.

Despite her optimism, Marton-Lefevre doubted that Obama he would be able to deliver everything he promises and gave a month to assess his administration's environmental team's actions.

At WWF, Roberts questioned the order of action.

"The haven't committed to a timetable yet, the question is where climate (change) sits amongst other priorities," he explained.

On top of outlining policies that break out of the previous administration's mould, Obama has nominated officials and scientists with strong green credentials to key posts dealing with energy, the interior and environment.

In his inauguration speech last Tuesday, he vowed to "roll back the specter of a warming planet" and championed renewable energy.

"Each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet," Obama said.

He also addressed other nations "that enjoy relative plenty", saying that they and the United States could no longer consume the world's resources "without regard to effect."


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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2009, 07:34:39 am »

US will lead on climate change - Obama

US President Barack Obama has vowed to lead the world on climate change as he set about shredding Bush administration global warming policies with new domestic measures designed to force the development of fuel-efficient cars.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile picked a veteran of the Kyoto Protocol talks as her envoy for climate change, as the administration sent clear signals as world leaders target a historic global warming pact this year.

"We will make it clear to the world that America is ready to lead," Mr Obama said, in an apparent swipe at former president George W. Bush's reluctance to take control of international efforts to combat climate change.

"To protect our climate and our collective security, we must call together a truly global coalition," the president said, just six days after his inauguration, in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

Mr Obama signed memoranda designed to prod the struggling US auto industry to design new fuel-efficient vehicles to lessen US dependence on energy sources which he said bankroll dictators, and to spur the US economy.

"The days of Washington dragging its heels are over," Mr Obama said.

"My administration will not deny facts - we will be guided by them," Mr Obama said, in an apparent dig at Bush aides accused of subverting science for ideological reasons.

Mr Obama required the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider whether to grant California a waiver to regulate car emissions blamed for contributing to global warming.

Former president George W. Bush's administration had blocked efforts by the vast western state and a dozen others to impose their own limits on carbon dioxide gas emissions.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reacted with delight.

"With this announcement from President Obama less than a week into his administration, it is clear that California and the environment now have a strong ally in the White House," he said.

Mr Obama also ordered the Transportation Department to produce guidelines to require US cars to reach average fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

But the new president also made clear he would ask for action from giant developing economies to do more to limit greenhouse gases.

"I've made it clear that we will act, but so too must the world.

"That's how we will deny leverage to dictators and dollars to terrorists, and that's how we will ensure that nations like China and India are doing their part, just as we are now willing to do ours."

Environmentalists praised Mr Obama, after years battling the White House on climate change issues.

"It's a terrific beginning," David Yarnold, executive director of the Environmental Defence Fund said.

"It fires the starting gun for millions of new jobs, and amplifying the stimulus package and welding it to environmental benefits - and it highlights how those issues are inseparable."

Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope welcomed the California move.

"This action deserves the loudest applause, President Obama is making good on campaign promises and sending yet another signal that global warming and clean energy are top priorities for his administration."

Mr Obama said promoting alternative energy will stimulate the recession-mired US economy and reduce demand on foreign sources of energy.

"America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes, and a warming planet," Mr Obama said.

"We will not be put off from action because action is hard. Now is the time to make tough choices," said the president, in a nod to critics of climate change reform who argue action will be painful for the hard-hit economy.

In another sharp break from Mr Bush, Mrs Clinton picked Todd Stern as her envoy for climate change, a State Department official said.

Mr Stern is a "former Clinton White House official with experience at Kyoto and Buenos Aires climate change negotiations", the official said on condition of anonymity.

Mr Stern took part in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations from 1997 to 1999, before becoming an adviser to the secretary of the treasury from 1999 to 2001.

Mr Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 dealing a blow to global climate change efforts, warning it would deal damage the US economy.

The Clinton administration agreed to the Protocol but the pact was never ratified by the Senate.

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