Much like Al Gore's surprise appearance at Netroots Nation this summer (which seems like eons ago at this point), I am told that President-Elect Barack Obama's taped message to the Bi-Partisan Governor's Global Climate Summit was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation earlier today.
President-Elect Obama's remarks should quiet any remaining suspicions that his campaign pledges -- the strongest energy and environmental platform by a presidential candidate ever -- were merely fleeting campaign promises to be discarded after Election Day. (Though it should have long since been clear to anyone paying attention that Obama is very serious about clean energy.) Obama said over and over during the campaign that energy would be priority number one and today's message left no doubt that his administration is committed to strong domestic and international efforts to combat global warming and that he will make the serious investments needed to make the clean energy future a reality. Watch:
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.
That will start with a federal cap and trade system. 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% by 2050.
Further, we will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future. We will invest in solar power, wind power, and next generation biofuels. We will tap nuclear power, while making sure it's safe. And we will develop clean coal technologies.
This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced.
These remarks come after similarly positive comments during Obama's 60 Minutes interview, the first since he was elected. Both pre- and post-election, the media has relentlessly pushed the idea that the economic downturn will force Obama to abandon his ambitious progressive agenda on everything from energy and climate to healthcare reform. Steve Kroft proved no exception, but Obama's answer underscored his exceptional commitment to clean energy, green jobs, and a sustainable economic recovery. You can watch the whole interview here, but here's the relevant section:
Kroft: When the price of oil was at $147 a barrel, there were a lot of spirited and profitable discussions that were held on energy independence. Now you've got the price of oil under $60.
Mr. Obama: Right.
Kroft: Does doing something about energy is it less important now than...
Mr. Obama: It's more important. It may be a little harder politically, but it's more important.
Mr. Obama: Well, because this has been our pattern. We go from shock to trance. You know, oil prices go up, gas prices at the pump go up, everybody goes into a flurry of activity. And then the prices go back down and suddenly we act like it's not important, and we start, you know filling up our SUVs again.
And, as a consequence, we never make any progress. It's part of the addiction, all right. That has to be broken. Now is the time to break it.
Change has come my friends--and in a big way. Plain and simple: Obama gets it when it comes to energy. And most importantly, he gets that clean energy is the only way to dig ourselves out of the economic morass that George Bush's failed policies have left us in.
Obama has set a high bar, provided exceptional leadership, and struck a bipartisan tone. Now it's time for the new Congress to do everything it can help the new administration meet these lofty but essential goals. Our economy and our planet are depending on it.