Food for Thought - Obama 100 days + a few
Food for ThoughtObama 100 days + a fewBy Felix DoddsIt always worried me that in that in the United States the environment had become something of a left v right issue which in Europe it had not. After all Margaret Thatcher was one of the key leaders in galvanising support for the Montreal Protocol. President Chirac led the call for a stronger organisation to protect the environment, a UN Environment Organisation and Chancellor Merkel, the Spiegel calls: ‘Germans Green Chancellor’. So I decided to look up in the Webster definition of conservatism and found that it said: “preferring gradual development to abrupt change,” or to “preserve what is established.” Until Senator McCain’s bid for the White House this view did not seem to percolate the Republican Party. A party that has had green Presidents in the past after all Theodore Roosevelt is well remembered for creating Central Park, he did say: “Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear most important part."But what a difference a President makes, after eight years of President Bush and the denial around climate change and the blocking of many environmental suggestions, so many things that didn’t seem possible now seem probable. The first green roots saw might ain the suggestions around the second recovery package followed by at UNEP Governing Council the support by the US for a convention on Mercury. In Bonn at the climate preparatory meeting Todd Stern, the US Climate Change envoy said: “President Obama is proposing to reduce U.S. emissions by something in the order of about 16-17 percent from where we are right now; about 15 percent from 2005 levels, and about 80 plus percent by 2050. That is a significant reduction. I am well aware that there is a historical affection for the year 1990; and that in 1990 terms, the President has proposed to be at that level, the 1990 level, by 2020. But it is a 16 or 17 percent reduction from where we are right now.” This is a huge movement from the previous administration but as yet not enough to ensure we keep within the 2 degree scenario that most climate experts think we need to not exceed.We have also seen in response to the U.S. Supreme Court, the US Environmental Protection Agency has determined that: “carbon dioxide and other tailpipe emissions are harmful to the health and wellbeing of the American people.” And finally on Earth Day President Obama said that we need: "global coalition" to solve the problems of climate change. "Our climate knows no boundaries; the decisions of any nation will affect every nation," All this within the first 100 days. Is this enough? This will be the first Commission on Sustainable Development under a President Obama administration...perhaps we will have a clearer idea this time next year when Copenhagen has happened. But we should remember that climate is not everything the US has not ratified the UN Convention on Biological Diversity nor the Basel Convention or the Law of the Sea Convention so lots for President Obama to do in the second 100 days.
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