Obama’s ‘Message of Hope’ Vows ‘Meaningful Response’ to Climate Change
EPA administrator delivers “message of hope” to G8 environmental meeting, committing the U.S. to the fight against climate change, in a major departure from the policies of former President Bush.
United States environmental officials, taking part in talks with the Group of Eight nations in Syracuse, Italy on Thursday, vowed that President Barack Obama would help bring about a ‘meaningful’ response to climate change.
“I bring from President Obama his message of hope, his message of change, his message of common purpose for the environment,” said Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The U.S. government now fully acknowledges the urgency and complexity of climate change challenges, and we know full well that a meaningful U.S. response to this challenge is absolutely essential,” she said.
Obama’s stance marks a radical about-face from that of former President George W. Bush who refused to endorse the 1997 Kyoto Protocol binding wealthy nations to carbon cuts because he said it would endanger American jobs.
The current administration has made the fight against climate change a priority, and insists that protecting the environment will actually have a positive impact on the economy.
Currently, the US Congress is debating a bill that seeks to cut the country’s carbon emissions by 20 per cent from their 2005 levels by 2020. The Obama administration is also pushing for the introduction of a carbon trading system similar to the one already in place in Europe.
Obama is also set to host a meeting of world leaders from the 16 largest carbon emitting nations in Washington next week, in an attempt to clinch an international agreement in Copenhagen in December to extend the Kyoto deal beyond 2012.
The message that Jackson brought to the conference received warm applause from nations in attendance at the G8 meeting of environment ministers.
“It shows that the Americans attach a lot of importance to these discussions,” said Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner.
European ministers at the conference continuously spoke about how important it is for the U.S. to take the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The ministers contend that it’s the only way that big polluters such as China can be expected to follow suit.
“The sooner the U.S. can specify, and be concrete in its position, the sooner we can expect some signals coming out of Beijing,” Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard, who will chair the talks in Copenhagen, told a German news service.
Jackson also scolded lobbyists who she said were attempting to derail the President’s attempt to fight climate change.
“I am hopeful and the president is hopeful that we are on the verge of opening a clean energy economy,” she said. “Certainly those with interests vested in the status quo will come up with horror stories to try to hold us back.”