One by one the building blocks of Obama’s Presidency are taking place and the White House begins to take on a tinge of green. In yet another break from the disastrous Bush years, Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has appointed a special envoy on climate change.
Clinton named the envoy as Todd Stern, a former White House assistant who was the chief US negotiator on climate during her husband’s administration.
In making the announcement Clinton vowed that the Obama administration would play a primary role in the fight against climate change, “American leadership is essential to meeting the challenges of the 21st century, and chief among those is the complex, urgent and global threat of climate change,” she said.
“The urgency of the global climate crisis must not be underestimated,” Clinton added. “Nor should the science behind it or the facts on the ground be ignored or dismissed. The time for realism and action is now.”
Sterns’ appointment, she said, sends “an unequivocal message that the United States will be energetic, focused, strategic and serious about addressing global climate change and the corollary issue of clean energy.”
Stern said after accepting the job: “Containing climate change will require nothing less than transforming the global economy from a high-carbon to a low-carbon energy base. But done right, this can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and become a driver for economic growth in the 21st century.”
“President Obama and Secretary Clinton have left no doubt that a new day is dawning in the U.S. approach to climate change and clean energy. The time for denial, delay and dispute is over,” he continued. “The time for the United States to take up its rightful place at the negotiating table is here. We can only meet the climate challenge with a response that is genuinely global. We will need to engage in vigorous, dramatic diplomacy.”
Stern will serve as the chief U.S. negotiator at United Nations talks on climate change including the crucial December talks in Copenhagen.
So was Stern’s message just over a year ago to any incoming president?
“From the outset, the new president should make clear that the climate and energy challenge is a top presidential priority”, he wrote. “The challenge and opportunity ahead is enormous, nothing less than transforming the energy foundation of the world economy. The United States can succeed only with the president’s fully committed leadership to establish the right rules and incentives and to marshal vigorous public and political support … The risks inherent in failing to act decisively are simply too great”.
Srong words. Welcome to the job, Mr. Stern, it could be quite a year.