The Energy [R]evolution is underway and Obama gets it… But now is no time for complacency!

by Mike Gaworecki

March 11, 2009

As the Obama Administration continues to make great strides in reversing the trajectory of the Bush years with regard to global warming policy, we have released the new U.S. scenario of the Energy [R]evolution report. The Energy [R]evolution U.S. Scenario is a blueprint for how America can stop global warming and build a sustainable clean energy economy at the same time, while leaving behind dirty and dangerous energy sources like fossil fuels and nuclear.

Energy [R]evolution

Despite the ongoing financial crisis, Obama is making the global climate crisis a priority for his administration. That’s probably because, as the Energy [R]evolution states, “According to the University of Massachusetts’s Political Economy Research Institute, investments in wind and solar power create 2.8 times as many jobs as the same investment in coal; mass transit and conservation would create 3.8 times as many jobs as coal.” The Energy [R]evolution U.S. Scenario would create 14.5 million more new jobs by 2050 than would be created if we continued to rely on fossil fuels. So kickstarting an energy revolution would also help rebuild our economy.

Obama gets it. A couple of recent news items demonstrated yet again that the Obama team is serious about tackling global warming. The first was the leaked news that:

The Obama administration is fast-tracking its response to the Supreme Court’s 2007 climate decision with plans to issue a mid-April finding that global warming threatens both public health and welfare, according to an internal U.S. EPA document (pdf) obtained by Greenwire.

This is important because an “endangerment finding,” as this is called, requires the EPA to establish regulations for limiting the danger of whatever it is they’ve determined poses a threat. In this case, that would mean the EPA would regulate greenhouse gas emissions. While EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says she will not establish regulations right away, but instead “hold back on new emission rules to sync with a final endangerment finding and other fast-moving environmental policies,” this is still a very welcome development.

The other bit of good news was that:

The Obama administration is aggressively reworking U.S. trade policy to more strongly emphasize domestic and social issues, from the displacement of American workers to climate change. …

During the campaign, Obama said he generally supports free-trade policies but also signaled a tougher approach that is only now beginning to be outlined. Both in [President Obama’s nominee as U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk’s] testimony yesterday and in a policy statement issued by new Obama appointees at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the administration vowed to make tougher labor and environmental standards prerequisites for trade deals. …

The trade representative’s office also stated that trade policy must now contain a new element of "social accountability," including on issues such as climate change. "We should aim to make trade a part of the tool kit of solutions for addressing international environmental challenges," the statement said.

This is also really significant because it shows that Obama is not only going to tackle global warming here at home, but that he also recognizes the need for his administration to lead the way globally. (And the fact that his administration will strive for broader “social accountability” in global trade agreements – not just in regard to environmental issues but also the labor practices of those countries America does business with – is a pretty nice goal, too. We certainly haven’t heard anything like that for the better part of the last decade.)

As much as we welcome and applaud these moves by the Obama Administration, now is no time to get complacent. Obama is calling for us to return to 1990 emissions levels by 2020, whereas climate scientists have clearly indicated that that is too slow a pace to mitigate the worst types of havoc global warming will wreak on our planet. We need stronger mid-term targets of 25 to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

But without overwhelming support from Americans like you and me, it will be extremely difficult – even for Obama – to strengthen these targets. You can take action now to tell Congress we need an energy revolution in America. And don’t forget to check out the Energy [R]evolution report to find out how we can build a sustainable clean energy economy here at home.

We’re at a make or break point here, folks. Let’s stay active.

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