Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama and the Changing Climate

By Ben Trott

Obama appeared to get a few words of support yesterday from the head of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri. He commented that Obama’s increasingly likely looking election would create momentum for December’s round of international climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland. The December talks are a preliminary to next year’s planned conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol is supposed to be agreed.

The statement comes hot on the tails of an announcement by Jason Grumet, Obama’s energy advisor, that if elected he would classify carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant – similar to lead and carbon monoxide. If implemented, according to the interview given by Grumet to Bloomberg, this may lead to caps being placed on emissions and, potentially, a halt to the construction of some of the planned new coal plants in the US.

Any such official restrictions placed on carbon emissions, however, are likely to be coupled with explicitly market-based approaches, such as the cap-and-trade scheme referred to in the Obama-Biden ‘New Energy for America’ plan.

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