Yesterday, I couldn’t follow the inauguration speech by the new US President Barack Obama, a man I refer now to as a new hope for a planet in peril. This title couldn’t be more appropriate.
This post is the occasion for me to propose you a selection of the various articles published by the United Nations Environment Program on the new occupant of the White House and his views on environmental issues.
What we needed to mitigate climate change and restore our environment has arrived. President Obama’s actions on these topics can act as a global catalyst.
Here is a short extract of yesterday’s speech :
“Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”
“We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”
“With old friends and former foes, we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.”
“To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.”
“And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.”
Barack Obama also noted on a previous occasion words that denotes with the previous US President:
“Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.
(…) My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.
That will start with a federal cap and trade system. We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80% by 2050.
Further, we will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future. We will invest in solar power, wind power, and next generation biofuels. We will tap nuclear power, while making sure it’s safe. And we will develop clean coal technologies.
The United Nations Environment Program noted on this historic day:
As Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, he is widely expected to usher in a new era for green leadership from the US.
Obama places the environment high on his agenda. On his historic victory speech on 5 November, he cited “a planet in peril” as one of the three key challenges he will face as President, alongside “two wars” and “the worst financial crisis in a century”.
One of Barack Obama’s key election promises was an energy policy that will fight climate change, create jobs and reduce the US’s dependence on foreign oil and gas.
During his election campaign, Obama said he planned to cut greenhouse emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, implement a ten-year, $150 billion clean energy plan and create five million ‘green’ jobs.
“Obama’s green jobs strategy could deliver a ‘quadruple win’ – dealing simultaneously with the economic recession, energy security, job creation and emissions,” commented Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, in an interview with the Press Association.
The idea of a Green New Deal, which is advocated by the United Nations as a way out of the economic crisis, is increasingly gaining momentum. Several other leaders have also recently proposed green economic stimulus packages to help their economies out of the slump, including Asian powerhouses Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Other post from the UNEP that is worth reading: