Obama Renews Promise to Break with Bush-Era Environmental Policies

No laughing matter ... Barack Obama at a rally in at North Carolina. (Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Obama Renews Promise to Break with Bush-Era Environmental Policies

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama today renewed his promise to make a decisive break with
George Bush on the environment, using a summit convened by Arnold
Schwarzenegger to promise a "new chapter in America's leadership on
climate change".

The video appearance by Obama confirmed
Schwarzenegger's role as a global leader on climate change, a position
shored up only hours before when the California governor set a bold new
target for his state to get a third of its electricity from renewable
sources by 2020.

In his address, the president-elect accused Bush
of failing to show leadership on the issue of climate change. "That
will change when I take office," he said.

He went on to lay out
an ambitious agenda, beginning with targets aimed at reducing
greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. He also reiterated a
campaign pledge to invest $15bn each year in the development of clean
technology - including "clean" coal and nuclear power.

investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil,
making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us
bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help
us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic
crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and
can't be outsourced."

On Monday, Schwarzenegger signed an
executive order committing California to produce one-third of its
electricity from renewable sources.

"I am proposing we set
the most aggressive target in the nation for renewable energy," he told
reporters. The state legislature still must pass the goal into law.

before Monday's order, California was already committed to producing
20% of its power from wind and solar power by 2010. "Today is all about
changing our goals and raising the bar," Schwarzenegger said.

summit in Los Angeles comes at a crucial time, ahead of the United
Nations climate change talks in Poland next month and amid expectation
of a dramatic shift in US environmental policy once Obama is in the
White House.

As Obama said in the video address, he will not
attend the meeting in Poland but had asked members of Congress to
report back to him.

"Once I take office, you can be sure that
the United States will once again engage vigorously in these
negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global
cooperation 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 of America."

Schwarzenegger's meeting brought
together European, Indian and Chinese officials, oil company executives
and environmentalists along with a handful of Schwarzenegger's fellow

Schwarzenegger invited his 49 fellow governors to
the summit, but only four - from Florida, Illinois, Kansas and
Wisconsin - were expected to make an appearance. Representatives from
Michigan, Colorado, Utah and Washington state were also on hand.

California is unable to sign international treaties on climate change,
Schwarzenegger has built a reputation because of his efforts to cut
emissions in California and abroad.

He set up a cap-and-trade emissions market between western US states and Canadian provinces.

governor is expected to follow up on those efforts at the summit with a
declaration in which participating leaders will pledge to work together
to reduce emissions.

"This declaration will help advance
efforts being undertaken by our national governments for the next
global agreement on climate change," Schwarzenegger's office said in a

Schwarzenegger is also expected to sign agreements
with Indonesia and Brazil making it easier for Californian companies to
invest in reforestation projects in those countries.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.