Obama Urged To Create ‘Green New Deal’
The worldwide economic crisis is prompting a growing number of countries to back away from pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in clean energy, just a week before the start of talks in Poland on a new worldwide climate change treaty.
In the United States, some business groups are calling on President-elect Barack Obama to move cautiously in tackling global warming, saying that a too aggressive response could prolong the economic downturn and cost jobs.
But a growing chorus of other businesses, environmentalists, and politicians are calling for a green-based economic recovery.
An enormous federal government investment in clean technology would provide low-cost capital to accelerate energy efficiency, build massive renewable energy projects, and jumpstart a sustainable low-carbon economy, these groups say. Such a Green New Deal, woven into the economic stimulus package being crafted for early next year, could create millions of government-subsidized jobs and build a new energy infrastructure.
“It’s a smart thing to do for the economy and a strategically wonderful thing to do for the environment,” said David Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance, a partnership between the Sierra Club and United Steelworkers that works to develop green jobs. His group points to a University of Massachusetts report earlier this fall that said a $100 billion investment in clean technology could create 2 million new jobs in the next two years.
“It leads us down the path for energy independence,” he said. “It’s a historic opportunity.”
On Saturday, Obama gave his strongest comments yet about making the environment a cornerstone of his economic stimulus plan. He outlined a package to create 2.5 million jobs, that included “building wind farms and solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil…”
During the campaign, Obama pledged to cap carbon dioxide emissions and reduce them 80 percent by 2050 and to have 25 percent of US energy come from renewable sources by 2025. He wants to invest $150 billion in clean energy in the next decade. In addition, he has said he will raise vehicle fuel economy standards and aggressively pursue energy efficiency and conservation.
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