“Few challenges facing America, and the world, are more urgent than combating climate change,” President-elect Barack Obama said on November 19, 2008. “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,” he promised.
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 percent by 2050.
Almost four years later, Obama’s rhetoric on climate change has disappeared. In the Blueprint for A Secure Energy Future: A Progress Report released today, prepared by Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, there’s only one mention of climate change other than Zichal’s title, in a voluntary international initiative on page 12. Last year’s Blueprint mentioned “global climate change” on page 37.
The blueprint does make several mentions of programs that reduce greenhouse pollution in individual sectors, but the Environmental Protection Agency’s work to regulate carbon pollution from power plants is not one of them.
Although the document does effectively explain that the Obama administration is working to moderately improve the health of our energy future despite intense partisan opposition, the abandonment of the goal of cutting carbon pollution in line with international obligations and scientific reality is a sad reflection of the power of the fossil fuel industry over American politics. It may also reflect the mistaken political calculation that Americans won’t support a leader who is willing to publicly fight the urgent challenge of climate change.