Following Obama’s landslide victory in the US presidential elections last night, pundits are already speculating on how he will deal with the formidable challenges in his in-tray, not least of which will be reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving the economy into clean-energy mode.
The news that Obama will be the 44th President of the US has been met with jubilation by environmentalists (as reported here and here), who are hopeful that the new administration will come good on promises to protect the planet.
Over on the New York Times’ Green Inc. blog, James Kanter reports that hopes have soared in Europe toward global cooperation on climate change following Obama’s appointment as President-elect. Earlier today, Hans-Gert Pöttering, the president of the European Parliament, welcomed a new start for transatlantic relations on issues including climate change and invited Mr. Obama to address the European Parliament next spring. That would be the first time a U.S. president has spoken at the European Parliament since Ronald Reagan’s address in Strasbourg in 1985, writes Kanter.
Back on the home front, corporate carbon giants are less happy about the potential impacts of an Obama administration. CNNmoney says that companies such as ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Chevron Corp are concerned that policies such as windfall profits tax and market intervention will target the fossil fuel industry unfairly. Some southern utility companies, such as Duke Energy Corp have lobbied against a federal renewable portfolio standard, though some encourage state mandates, writes Ian Talley.
Still, as Keith Johnson reports on WSJ’s Environmental Capital blog, though certain businesses are nervous, new regulations don’t have to be a negative; they can also create new business opportunities. Whether green-energy plans will take precedence over climate-change regulation, as suggested by Bloomberg (h/t Environmental Capital), remains to be seen. Writing in today’s Guardian, Elana Schor thinks not:
The environment is as much a foreign policy issue as a domestic one, given the 13-month deadline for a new UN climate change treaty. Obama has committed to global carbon emissions caps as a means to help China and India come on board the UN pact, but that requires a reliable plan to rein in Big Oil, King Coal, and other fossil-fuel producers with fearsome political clout. If Obama cannot coax Congress into passing a climate bill by summer 2009, expect the young president to fight climate change with one stroke of his pen through new regulations.
Image credit: Obama campaign