February 13, 2012
The forthcoming Presidential and Congressional elections in the USA will also be of crucial importance for the future of our planet.
Traditionally, Republican Administrations and Congressional majorities have cared more about oil and coal interests than about energy efficiency and renewable energies.
President Obama`s ambitious climate legislation programme has been foiled by a Republican majority in frustrating Congressional battles. Republic members of the Congress even tried to blunt the Administration` s major tool, i.e. the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set fuel efficiency standards, in particular for cars, light transport vehicles and trucks. The November 2011 proposal for the strictest ever fuel efficiency standards to be progressively implemented until 2025 marks Obama`s major effort in the fight against C02 emissions.
But he has also been a staunch supporter of clean-energy programmes. Both wind and solar investments have mushroomed during the last four years, in particular thanks to federal tax-break programmes. Wind energy now accounts for one third of new electricity generation. That compares impressively with EU achievements, but still falling short of German or Danish records.
Thus, even though the USA lacks sophisticated incentives comparable to the EU cap and trade system, under which the 12 000 biggest energy users are bound to reduce their C02 emissions by two per cent annually, the country has become “greener” under the Obama Administration, through massive coal substitution by shale gas, higher energy efficiency and more renewable power generation.
Such progress would be at risk under a Republican Administration and Congressional majorities.
President Obama calls for an extension of tax credits for renewable power generation as part of a broad energy programme, until wind and solar electricity generation will become competitive with coal- and gas-produced power towards the end of the decade. If any President at all, Obama might be able to convince Congress of the need to embark on forward-looking initiatives to make the US energy system more sustainable and join a coalition of the main C02 emitter countries for a comprehensive global climate pact until 2015.
These should be enough reasons for voting Obama and Democratic next November.Author : Eberhard Rhein