Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Obama tells US to end its fossil fuel fix

Sunday Age
Sunday 25/10/2009 Page: 15

PRESIDENT Barack Obama says "a consensus is growing" in the US that the nation must make the transition away from fossil fuels as he urged Congress to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation. Speaking to students and faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he said keeping the US a leader in alternative energy innovation will bolster economic growth and national security while also confronting the peril of climate change. "It is a transformation that will be made as swiftly and as carefully as possible to ensure that we are doing what it takes to grow this economy," Mr Obama said.

The US is the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. The House of Representatives has passed legislation to reduce emissions that many scientists say are contributing to global warming. It would reduce emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020 by limiting carbon-dioxide pollution and establishing a market for trading pollution permits. A Senate panel will begin hearings this week on a companion bill. "This should not be a partisan issue," Mr Obama said. "Everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system." Mr Obama cited statements from US military leaders that dependence on fossil fuels from overseas is a security threat and agreement from businesses as well as environmental groups that steps must be taken to protect the economy and the planet.

To counter arguments that climate legislation would cost US jobs, Mr Obama has made creating so-called "green jobs" a part of his agenda. A portion of the $US787 billion ($A847 billion) stimulus package passed earlier this year is targeted to boost funding for research and development of alternative energy The US Chamber of Commerce is among the business groups opposing the legislation passed by the House. Without naming anyone, Mr Obama took a shot at critics. "We are seeing a convergence," Obama said. "The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalised."