Will the climate change landscape shift with Obama at the helm?


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Those with a vested interest in energy, the environment and climate change are probably well aware of President-elect Barack Obama’s position?. The Obama-Biden ticket campaigned with an aggressive environmental platform that includes implementation of an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

The proposed cap-and-trade policy will require all pollution credits to be auctioned; therefore, all industries will be required to pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than granting emission rights on the basis of past pollution. Proceeds(from the auction credits?) will be used to invest in new technologies, restoration of habitats, and rebates and other transition relief to ensure that families and communities are not adversely impacted by the transition to a low carbon economy.

In addition to the cap-and-trade program, Obama has pledged to invest $150 billion over 10 years to accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids vehicles, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, encourage energy efficiency, invest in low emissions coal plants, advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid—all with the goal of creating 5 million new, ‘green collar’ jobs.

Obama hasn’t waited for his inauguration on January 20 to set the wheels of change in motion. On December 16 Obama named Steven Chu—the winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics who was an early advocate for finding scientific solutions to climate change—to head the Energy Department.

Chu will work closely with former Environmental Protection Agency head Carol Browner, whom Obama named to a new post that will coordinate White House policy on energy and climate change.

A top environmental legal expert with ties to the Obama transition team, Lisa Heinzerling, is leading a new think tank created by Georgetown University’s Law Center specifically to promote cooperation between the federal government and states on a national climate change policy.

Many pundits predict that the economic crisis may adversely impact the climate change goals that the Obama team has set out for itself. But in an interview with Time magazine’s David Von Drehle, Obama stated:

'The drop in oil prices, I do think, makes the conversation about energy more difficult, not less necessary. More than ever, I think, a wholesale investment in transforming our economy—from retrofitting buildings so that they’re energy-efficient to changing our transportation patterns and thinking about how to rebuild our electricity grid—those are all things that we’re going to need now more than ever.'

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