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Obama to re-route US climate change policy

17.02.2009

US President Barack Obama and his new administration will probably inject significant momentum into discussions about global warming leading up to the UN’s annual climate change conference in Copenhagen later this year.

Elliot Diringer, the Director of International Strategies for the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, made that prediction during a recent interview with EWEA.

Diringer said Obama will vigorously engage the climate change file but his efforts will depend largely on Congress first enacting acceptable mandatory domestic legislation before any ratification of an international treaty can occur.

“We think it will be 2010 before we reach that final stage,” said Diringer, adding that other countries will also have to take meaningful action before the US would ratify an international treaty dealing with global warming.

Diringer noted, however, that even before Obama took office he was sending clear signals that he was strongly committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Prior to joining the Pew Centre, a Washington-based independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to addressing global climate change, Diringer served in the Clinton White House as Deputy Press Secretary and as a Senior Policy Advisor and Director of Communications at the Council on Environmental Quality.

In the EWEA interview, Diringer said he thought that the global warming crisis, the energy supply crisis and the international financial crisis could actually be the proper moment for policy makers to embrace a new 21 st century green revolution.

“Sometimes in crisis there is opportunity and this may be one of those cases. I think the crisis enables us to make the case that addressing climate change also creates economic opportunities and that the two go hand in hand and in concert with improved energy security as well.”

There is a broad and growing recognition among the US public that there is an urgent need to address climate change, he said, adding that people are also beginning to accept the connection between energy consumption and global warming.

“With the proper signals from government, we can count on the American people to do their part,” said Diringer.

He said he expects that wind power will supply increasing amounts of electricity in the US between now and 2020. He added he hopes that by 2020 the major economies of the world will have in place policy structures that will significantly reduce the amount of destructive greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere.

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