ALL through his election campaign Barack Obama pledged to lead the world’s battle against climate change from the front. From 20 January 2009, he will have that chance, but it won’t be without challenge.
This month, before he even takes office, the US Government is under huge pressure to bale out the struggling giant car manufacturers, to save the millions of jobs that rely so heavily on the automobile market.
You could argue that this flies in the face of any promised green policy, that corporate greed in developing giant US-built SUVs has not only contributed to the ill-health of the planet, but the world economy too.
And with the price of oil compounding the situation in a nation whose thirst for the black stuff and its rewards is never slaked, it would be easy to think here we go again, that change can only disappoint.
Or perhaps not.
Obama has already stated that he wants to see one million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015 – cars that won’t only be built in America, but machines able to travel 150 miles per gallon.
He plans to lead the way himself by ensuring all non-security essential cars in the White House fleet are converted to plug-ins.
Half of all cars purchased by the Federal government will be plug-in hybrids or all electric by 2012, if he gets his way.
So perhaps now, as these huge car companies are on their knees, Obama has a real shot of getting them to commit to his green agenda.
They want a bale out. Fine. In return, surely he will be entitled to demand they commit to his environmental
policies by agreeing to develop new, clean technologies for transport, in order for his continued support as President.
Also, the Obama-Biden ticket has also pledged to provide $4billion re-tooling tax credits and loan guarantees for domestic auto plants and parts manufacturers so new fuel efficient cars can be built in the US.
It’s all part of his $150billion so-called ‘Apollo Project’ that he hopes will deliver millions jobs and energy security to the country he will lead, and the worldwide responsibility that goes with it.
Already he has set a target of reducing America’s carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, investing $15billion a year into developing clean technology, creating an estimated five million ‘green’ jobs.
In a video address this month to a climate conference convened by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who himself wants his state to generate a third of its electricity from renewable sources, Obama said he wanted the
US to lead the world in “a new era of global co-operation on climate change”.
He said: “When I am President, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington.
“And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States.”
The President-elect added: “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option.
“Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences too serious.”
His comments were also intended as a message to delegates attending this month’s UN sponsored climate change talks in Poland, which includes talks over the Kyoto Protocol and the failures of some to accept it.
Obama’s wider message, of course, the dawn chorus of change that saw him elected in such style, will best be articulated through his decisive actions and not simply well intentioned words left whispering in the wind.