Obama’s excellent energy and climate plan

obama.jpgPresidential candidate Barack Obama has released his energy and climate plan — and it is first-rate (PDF here and HTML here). The plan will:

  • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the level recommended by top scientists to avoid calamitous impacts. [Obama will require carbon emissions to be “80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050” through cap & trade (with 100% allowance auction!) starting with a mandate “of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.”]
  • Invest $150 billion over the next ten years to develop and deploy climate friendly energy supplies, protect our existing manufacturing base and create millions of new jobs.
  • Dramatically improve energy efficiency to reduce energy intensity of our economy by 50 percent by 2030.
  • Reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce oil consumption overall by at least 35 percent, or 10 million barrels of oil, by 2030
  • Make the U.S. a leader in the global effort to combat climate change by leading a new international global warming partnership.

I wonder if Shellenberger & Nordhaus endorse it — they get their huge clean energy fund, but they have to swallow all those mandates and high carbon prices they claim are politically untenable.

Obama definitely understands that you need smart regulations and government mandates to get clean energy technologies into the marketplace — and to stop traditional coal plants from being built. His plan includes:

  • Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
  • Require 25 Percent of Electricity to Come from Renewable Sources by 2025.
  • Flip Incentives to Energy Utilities … by ensuring companies get increased profits for improving energy efficiency, rather than higher energy consumption.
  • Implement legislation that phases out traditional incandescent light bulbs by 2014.
  • Double fuel economy standards within 18 years
  • Mandate All New Vehicles are Flexible Fuel Vehicles
  • Increase Renewable Fuel Standard
  • Obama will use whatever policy tools are necessary, including standards that ban new traditional coal facilities, to ensure that we move quickly to commercialize and deploy low carbon coal technology.

Kudos to Obama and his staff — they have set the bar high for candidate energy and climate plans.

Gristmill’s take on this is here.

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14 Responses to Obama’s excellent energy and climate plan

  1. Mike says:

    This is yet another reason I hope that Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States. We desperately need the kind of leadership he brings to the table. While I’m a Clinton fan, I don’t think we need another dynastic presidency (the Bush dynasty hasn’t worked out so well for the country and the world…).

    Thanks for highlighting this, Joe. You’re one of the people I rely on to point me to the best info out there on global warming and how to address it.

  2. Capster says:

    Joe, you don’t support S&N’s call for 300 billion in technology investments over 10 years, but you do support Obama’s 150 billion, is that right? So is the issue with you and S&N just the size of the fund?

    As I’ve read it, while S&N don’t think that all the other mandates, carbon trading, etc. will be enough to get us to 80% reduction by 2050, I don’t think they are opposed to having them. It seems they just feel like what we have is not enough. Not sure I agree with them about that, but Obama’s proposal seems to fall somewhere between what you would desire and what they would desire.

  3. Joe says:

    I’ve never been opposed to spending the money. I just don’t think it’s the most important thing (or one of the three most important things) we need to do — nor do I believe it will be as politically popular as they think. I have called S&N out on Obama’s proposal — we’ll see what they say.

  4. aml says:

    i’m a big supporter of obama’s but why in the hell does this plan (or at least the summary) completely ignore land use? why aren’t we talking about rebuilding our cities? why isn’t there anything about reviving the rails or building a new high-speed passenger rail system?

  5. aml says:

    ok, the HTML fact sheet at Grist does mention land use and our transport system. my bad. still the focus on rebuilding metropolitan infrastructure would be helpful from a rhetorical standpoint…

  6. robert says:


    DeSmog Blog has a different take on Obama:

    Do you have thoughts on their reservations…

  7. D-pop says:

    Robert – DeSmog has joined the delayers. So what? Some wise person once said ‘it only takes a few, dedicated people to change the world’ or something like that I am paraphrasing.

    Barack Obama’s plan is good one, my only worry is making it happen politically, with lawsuits tying it up, etc. We dont have the time for that. I think we really do need a world war II -style effort. American’s have survived rationing before, how about rationing gasoline, energy use? Right out of the gate we can begin to see reductions. Take over some temporary control of some carbon-intensive industries and make the changes happen that need to happen. How about a temporary national sales tax, the money to go directly into developing clean energy and creating jobs? In world war II we re-tooled for a massive war effort, in 2008 we can start re-tooling for a massive attack on the problem of global warming. People grumbled at the beginning of the war too, but in the end the effort made America greater and the world a better place.

  8. Margaret says:

    Where did everyone go? Its June. I stumbled on this conversation when looking for some information on Obama’s committment to environmental issues. I would like to hear more if you’re out there.

  9. Joe says:

    Everyone has moved on to more recent posts!

  10. Bobby Hanson says:

    nuclear power looks to me like part of the answer to our energy problem but not how mccain and the republicans think. we can use wind, solar and hydro power supplies of energy as well. the key fuel to create is hydrogen. It is know fesable to have hydrogen power our existing infrustructure. BMW converted a a stock gasoline engine to run off hydrogen or gasoline (the BMW hydrogen 7) with minor modification. all vehicles are capable of being run off hydrogen. It is possible that all combustion engins can be converted to run on hydrogen. however it is better to run on electric motors like the honda idea that uses hydrogen to produce electricity to run thier electric motor in the Honda FCX clarity available know on lease. I see these 2 idea as a long term and short term fix to the energy crisis. the BMw idea can be done now on our existing infrustructure that runs primerly on gas and we can slowly upgrade our infrustructure over time to primerly run on electricity from hydrogen like hondas plan.

    summary of production

    1)use are nuclear power plants, solar energy, hydro plants, wind mills to produce electricity


    2) use sea water which is free. Introduce it to electricity produced from our renewable sources listed above (electrolosis takes place) this create pure liquide hydrogen – fuel for our vehicles and fuel to heat our homes if you dont have central air powered by electricity


    3) liquid hydrogen can be turned into electricity by way of fuel cell- power for our homes

    * short term solution- can be done in the next few years*

    some National Hydrogen Association companies are projecting that they can produce and deliver hydrogen economically to fueling stations at costs as low as $1.20/gallon After adding the average US highway taxes (federal and state) of $0.43/gallon thats a cost of $1.63 a gallon at the lowest price. *make hydrogen pumps available at every gas station

    * require auto makers to make available modifications to run gasoline engines properly on hydrogen at delerships and provide subsidies

    * federal goverment can provide subsidies to help fund modificatons on home oil heating systems to run on hydrogen

    *long term solution* 10 to 30 years down the line

    upgrade entire infrustucture to run primerally on hydrogen and electricity no gas no coal no fusoil fuels. this will resolute in our country having an unlimited supply of energy we would not have to conserve or buy over seas our goverment would profit from taxes as usual, energy companies would still make their profits not as much as they do now but they will make a good amount and we the poeple would have a set cheap price for fuel uneffectable by spiculation and supply and demand being we would have a unlimited supply of hydrogen + we would be the cleanest envirmental nation in the world with Zero emmision and serve as an example to other nations to help turn back global warming

    source of my information

  11. Greg says:

    As a United States Senator Obama could have sponsored or co-Sponsored bills for all these proposals. As a United States Senator Obama did not sponsor or cosponsored bills for any of these proposals. It is easy to talk the talk, but he is ineffective in making things happen.

  12. Greg, that is factually incorrect. Obama has cosponsored many energy and climate bills, and consistently votes for them.

    Here are his 24 votes in the Senate, showing a very consistent record of voting for clean energy. You can click through to the Senate rollcall details to see which are cosponsored by Obama.

    He is not on the Environment Committee, so he does not initiate bills, but he has cosponsored many of these bills, and with Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Hatch he proposed the EV subsidies that McCain shot down by not turning up to vote in Dec for the 2007 Energy bill

  13. Pavan says:

    I hope President Mr.Barak Obama does something constructive for the climate control programme…bcoz of global warming the contries which are going to get effected are the North Americans and the Europians.. I don’t want anything to happen like what happens in The Day After Tommorow……I hope America (U.S.A) takes the initative…I know they are under recession…but its better late than sorry….I hope and Pray for them……

  14. Kevin Lee says:

    Everyone in the world knows in the future all of our renewable energy will come from hydro-eletric power generated from the oceans waves.

    Don’t it make you mad to know the waves are scheduled to stop next week. It makes me mad to know that there are no people writing about this, the solution to the worlds energy crisis.

    I believe if you want to know the answer to these important questions you should ask a few billion people, surely we already have the answers.

    Thanks for asking 20 years ago!

    Good Luck!

    Please do us all a favor and pass this info to someone who cares.

    Cuidate, Chao

    Kevin Lee