What a difference 100 days makes.
In the first 100 days of his new U.S. presidency, Barack Obama has moved swiftly to distance himself from his predecessor George W. Bush. Obama has dealt with a deepening global financial crisis he had no part in creating by renouncing the greed of Wall Street while telling regular citizens that they too have to take more responsibility for their finances. He has criticised executives in Detroit’s automobile industry for repeatedly being ineffectual, and promoted cars with a much greater degree of fuel efficiency. He has announced the closure of the notorious prison camp in Guantanamo Bay and a deadline for the end of American participation in the war in Iraq. He has reversed the funding ban on stem cell research and said the White House will once again listen to science.
He has also, much to the delight of environmentalists, progressive organisations concerned about the ravages of global warming, and even the traditional business community wanting a strong stance from the U.S. on climate change, promised a new green economy which would effortlessly dovetail with concerns about domestic energy security.
That promise got a huge boost earlier this week when his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, addressed delegates from 17 nations at a Washington conference on climate and energy.
“The United States is fully engaged and determined to lead and make up for lost time both at home and abroad,” Clinton was quoted by The New York Times as saying. “We are back in the game.”
Her remarks are bound to encourage international negotiators trying to come up with a new post-Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions at the UN’s climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.
With regard to the wind power industry, it is worth noting that Clinton’s comments came in the same month that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said East Coast offshore wind could generate enough electricity to replace most, if not all, coal-fired power plants in the U.S.
“The idea that wind energy has the potential to replace most of our coal-burning power today is a very real possibility,” Salazar said in Atlantic City, according to the Associated Press. “It is not technology that is pie-in-the sky; it is here and now.”
The words and actions of the fledgling Obama administration are music to the ears to people and institutions such as the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), who are rightfully concerned about finding solutions to three of the most complex problems facing humankind today.
These include creating a green revolution based on a new economy which provides a growing population with local, affordable, sustainable non-polluting electricity that helps mitigate climate change caused by nearly 150 years of burning fossil fuels that have dangerously warmed our atmosphere.
EWEA would like to remind European policy makers that while wind power is already helping solve these problems, it can, with political support, do even more in the coming years as our global society is necessarily transformed into a low-carbon economy.
But if Obama’s green revolution does bear fruit, Europe could lose its leadership position in both climate negotiations and wind power unless EU leaders seize this potentially historic opportunity to continue striving for international excellence while working with a re-engaged America.
Since his inauguration on 20 January, Obama has repeatedly signaled that a new world order is dawning. Wind power is eager to meet that sunrise.