Obama's Changing Climate Change

Reader Contribution by Jessie Fetterling

In a recent press release, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) announced that it is ready for President-elect Barack Obama — especially after the Bush administration ignoring international progress on climate change for the past eight years. Not only does Obama argue for progress, he says he wants to find a common solution to our energy, environmental and economic problems. To do that, he says he wants to build a clean energy economy which will create millions of new jobs, expand capital investment, stop the nation’s dependence on oil, and prevent global warming.

To start, Obama’s cap-and-trade policy would require all permits for emitting carbon dioxide to be auctioned off, with proceeds going towards clean energy, habitat protections, and other transition relief for families. Last month, six of the 10 Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states in the Northeast raised $39 million doing just that, and if that price holds, the auctions could yield more than $500 million a year.

The soon-to-be President also has outlined plans to reduce global warming emissions by 80 percent by 2050. He’s pledged to make 10 percent of the nation’s electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025. According to UCS analysis, if just 20 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020, it could generate 185,000 new jobs; gain $66.7 billion in private capital investment; give $25.6 billion to rural landowners for leasing their land for biomass and wind energy production; and create $2 billion in new local tax revenues. On top of that, consumer electric and natural gas bills would reduce by $10.5 billion in 2020 and $31.8 billion in 2030.

And when all of this happens, it would reduce global warming emissions in 2020 by 223 million metric tons a year — the same as taking 36 million cars off the road. Now, that’s a change I think everyone could handle.