The world will have to reduce emissions more drastically than has been widely predicted, essentially ending the emission of carbon dioxide by 2050 to avoid catastrophic disruption to the world’s climate. [...] President-elect Obama’s goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 falls short of the response needed by world leaders to meet the challenge of reducing emissions to levels that will actually spare us the worst effects of climate change.
Steven Chu was pretty much a progressive dream pick for Secretary of Energy. You couldn’t imagine a better-qualified guy, or one with sounder views. But if you look at the testimony at his confirmation hearings, you’ll see that good personnel doesn’t repeal the mechanics of the political system and so there he was walking back earlier remarks he’d made about the evils of coal and the virtues of high gasoline prices.
Long story short, my best guess is that Obama’s climate proposals are too ambitious to be enacted and too timid to avert catastrophe.