Obama victory spells hope for climate change

Feature Story - 2008-11-05
It’s a good day for action against climate change. Barack Obama is America’s new president.

Barack Obama has promised to invest $150 billion over the next decade into renewable energy

His victory represents renewed hope that a strong international action plan on stopping climate change is achievable with both the US and China on board.

"The US and China, as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters play crucial roles in international climate negotiations," says Ailun Yang, Greenpeace China Climate and Energy Campaign Manager.

"Obama is expected to bring the US back to the leadership role in the international process, and this will change the dynamics of the negotiation significantly, especially by putting more pressure on China to further enhance its efforts to combat climate change."

The road to Copenhagen

Next December, the world will meet to discuss a crucial global warming action plan in Copenhagen at a key United Nations Climate Change Conference. The world needs both the US and China to take leading roles at this meeting.

Obama has made big promises on tackling climate change in terms of both cutting emissions and investing heavily into renewable energy and that's a breath of fresh air after eight years under a Republican administration that sat on the sidelines.

Race to go green

What's even more exciting is that Obama's plans to invest $150 billion over the next 10 years into developing renewable and alternative energy sources is likely to catalyze China's own clean energy sector and drive a global energy revolution.

"We are expecting to see a race between the US and China to become the world leader in developing clean energy sources," says Ms Yang.

"Both the US and China have witnessed the fastest growing renewable energy industries. The scale of these two countries will push the costs of using clean energy technologies down significantly and stimulate much wider application of these technologies around the world."

Also, having Obama taking a leading role at Copenhagen will give extra resources to any international climate change mechanism in terms of supporting developing countries adopt clean energy technologies and adapt better to climate change, Ms Yang adds.

Greenpeace statement

"We at Greenpeace congratulate Senator Barack Obama on his historic election as President of the United States. He has demonstrated the once-in-a-generation ability to unite America behind a common vision. It is a vision that the United States urgently needs now to solve the triple challenge of the energy, economic and global warming crises.

"We also congratulate the American people for backing a candidate who stood up for real change in a time of deep economic trouble. Among the most daunting issues America faces today is the crisis of global warming, and the American people backed the candidate who ran on a clear platform of taking the bold, science-based action needed to solve that crisis."

John Passacantando, executive director, Greenpeace USA.

Obama's green promises

Obama has said he will cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Obama has said, if necessary, he will use executive action to regulate global warming.

Obama has promised to re-engage with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Obama has said he will attend or send a representative to the next UN climate talks in Poland this December.

Obama said he will create five million new green jobs by investing $150 billion into clean energy over the next ten years.

Obama has said he would ensure that 10 percent of the country's power will come from clean sources by 2012.