To achieve Obama’s clean-energy future, commitments must follow

28 January 2011

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, speaking to a divided US Congress, President Obama laid out his vision for reviving the US economy. Amongst his central themes was increasing US innovation, job creation, and growth in the clean energy sector. Specific goals included:

  • Increasing government R&D in clean technologies;
  • Putting 1 million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015;
  • Generating 80% of the country’s electricity from clean energy sources – including renewables, nuclear power, efficient natural gas, and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) – by 2035.

The clean energy target was new, and would essentially double the amount of clean electricity generated in the US (currently 40 per cent).

Amy Davidsen, US Executive Director at The Climate Group said: “A switch to clean energy represents one of our country’s best opportunities to drive economic growth and better the environment. The President’s focus on scaling up clean technologies is the right one. His goal of generating 80 per cent of our power from clean sources is achievable. The key now is that he follows up his words with action, by actively working with Congress to make the vision a reality.”

President Obama was criticized by some for not once mentioning climate change in his speech – a marked difference from his 2009 speech where he made it a goal to “save our planet from the ravages of climate change,” and his 2010 speech where he called on Congress to pass a “comprehensive energy and climate policy.” The omission came just days after White House Climate Czar Carol Browner resigned from the post, fueling speculation that the President might be moving away from his climate goals, in light of the anti-climate policy sentiments in the House of Representatives.

Evan Juska, Head of US Policy for The Climate Group said: “It’s a strategic move on the part of the White House to reframe clean energy policy in terms of economic growth and energy security – to give it a shot of passing in this Congress. In the President’s first address this time last year, there was much talk and little action. If this year there’s less talk and more action, that would be a welcome development.”

To view State of Union text, click here.

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