Obama tackling climate change music to Europe’s ears

July 24, 2008

It took Barack Obama a mere nine minutes into his first speech in Europe to tackle the issue of climate change — and end eight years of frustration about U.S. foot-dragging on global warming by the world’s number one emitter of greenhouse gases.


The U.S. presidential candidate got right to the point in Berlin when he said climate change is a threat to the future of the world. He said it was vital for nations to work together with a spirit of unity similar to the one that brought down the Berlin Wall 19 years ago.

It was all music to the ears of the 200,000 spectators in Berlin after hearing the years of doubts about global warming and then resistance to any meaningful agreement on cutting emissions from George W. Bush and his administration — and the cheers for his lines about fighting climate change in a country where angst about that topic runs high were among the loudest on the warm summer evening.

“The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope,” Obama said. “But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers — dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.”

Obama, who has in the past gone out of his way to praise Germany’s pioneering laws that promote renewable energies, put global warming up there alongside stability in Afghanistan and nuclear proliferation as the “new peril” facing the world. His strong language won the hearts of the crowd in Berlin:

“As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya. This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands.”

Obama also praised Germany for its leadership on reducing carbon dixoide emissions, down nearly 20 percent since 1990. (The United States’ CO2 emissions have gone up 14 percent since 1990).

“Let us resolve that all nations — including my own — will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere,” said Obama, who wants to cut U.S. CO2 back to 1990 levels by 2020. “This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.”

But if he’s elected in November, will Obama really be able to stand up against the powerful U.S. interests opposed to any deep emission cuts? Will he really be able to help the United States get off its “addiction” to oil? How will Americans react when the price of gas rises to $8 per gallon (like Europeans pay) when they already get so worked up over the $4 gallon?


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[…] also had some things to say about climate change. “Obama tackling climate change music to Europe‚Äôs ears” by Erik […]

Posted by my Faith and Politics » Blog Archive | Report as abusive

RIght now, I am still relishing Obama’s words. I am sure he is well aware of the obstacles ahead. And I trust him with his good judgment, ability to gather the best in the field, and his gift of mobilizing the people. I believe Barack is a match for the special fossil fuel interests. He has made it clear that he will have no part in politics as usual:
http://lamarguerite.wordpress.com/2008/0 7/24/climate-high-on-obamas-list-during- berlin-speech/

Posted by marguerite manteau-rao | Report as abusive

Rather than merely tweaking an unstable system of environmental administration, it seems as though nothing less than a complete shake-up will help us reach the goal of a balanced environment:

http://www.bahaiperspectives.com/current -affairs/2008/03/17/a-sacred-environment -part-2-%E2%80%93-the-situation/

Posted by schemer | Report as abusive

I love what Obama is saying. He’s showing that he cares about the environment and that is great unlike John Mccain who talks about offshore drilling: http://www.talkgreen.ca/john-mccain-offs hore-drilling/

Posted by Fred Carle | Report as abusive

Senator Obama is completely right in linking global warming to social and political unrest. When the countries most affected by global warming become desperate they will consider any option, violent or not as valid.

Posted by William J Scott | Report as abusive

For a US politician, the senator did seem unusually candid on the climate threat we face,
yet he was not remotely accurate in describing the scale, or severity or urgency of that threat.
Nor did he give any idea of the requisite framework for global co-operation, being
[of global GHG emissions to respect the Earth’s capacity]
[of all nations’ GHG emission rights to per capita parity].
Instead the senator said just what was needed to please the audience,
so that US media could show him being cheered abroad.

For Europe to wait for US leadership on this issue is proving to be a lethally dangerous cop-out.

Posted by DL Cleverdon | Report as abusive

I wish the media would quit treating Barack Hussein Obama like he’s already the President of the United States. Let’s not forget that there are TWO CANDIDATES and there is still an election to be held.

Posted by Valerie | Report as abusive

Hi Valerie. You’re absolutely right — he’s only a candidate. But after so many years of Zero Leadership from the United States on climate change, it was heartening to so many European ears to finally hear someone (Anyone!) who trying to get into the White House who at least made it seem like he/she was truly ready to give climate change more attention. It was, well, like a gust of fresh air! I think a lot of people in Europe would be just as happy to hear John McCain come over and talk about fighting climate change too.

Posted by Erik Kirschbaum | Report as abusive

Obama is playing to the hype. To make it worse Obama say’s we need to go electric yet he opposes nuclear power. This spring L.A. had several warm days and they suffered “brown-outs” because there was not enough electricity to power the extra air-conditioner usage. How does he plan on plugging in 250 million cars when we can’t even cool a our homes? If you want to sit back and allow people like Gore and Obama tell you what to think on global warming, fine. Just try and use your own brains on the solution or you’re going to find its to late and you got what you thought you wanted. Wake-up people!!!

Posted by Rick | Report as abusive

Rick, I dont agree with you on this. First of all nuclear power is really bad for the environment. You should know that nuclear waste is a big cause of healt problem. Nuclear power is green only when you dont talk about the nuclear waste. This is what people don’t seem to understand.There are beter solutions then nuclear

Posted by Fred Carle | Report as abusive

Fred, there is an answer to nuclear waste. A new pressurized water reactor (EPR) is begining construction in Finland. This reacor is designed to burn nuclear waste fuels(plutonium,depleted uranium…). Japan, France and the U.S. have large stockpiles which poses a loooming threat. This design presents a way to dispoose of existing waste while greatly minimizing future waste. The problem is restricting those who would seek to profit by building breeder reactors to provide more plutonium etc… Ultimately this a temporary solution. Harnessing wind and solar power must be developed in con-juction with homes producing electricity off thr grid.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Would he do anything as bold as Al Gore to abandon the coal in the near future ? Does he have a plan to lead the world ? I may just rephrased Erik’s questions.

Posted by ED | Report as abusive

Even if he’s not as bold as Gore and/or is playing to the hype to some level, it’s nice to finally at least hear some concern about the environment from a candidate!

Charles Precht
Sustainable Design

Posted by Sustainable Home Design | Report as abusive