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Obama Says Full Speed Ahead On Climate

Definitely of note: Here's the latest from Obama on averting drastic climate change—he says we need to go full speed ahead on capping emissions and building on what states like California are already doing (the video was aired at the U.S. governors' summit on global warming organized by Arnold Schwarzenegger):


Strikingly, he doesn't just drone on about tossing money around for green investment, but states very clearly that his top priority is still a "federal cap-and-trade system" for greenhouse gases, with "strong annual targets... to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80 percent by 2050." In the current print issue, I have a piece arguing that any effective climate plan is going to need both a cap and green investment working together, and that the cap half shouldn't be chucked aside in the face of our current economic woes—in some ways, a recession even makes tackling greenhouse gases easier. But it sounds like Obama, for one, doesn't need the prodding.

P.S. Looks like I'm not the only one making the argument. Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers agrees. Here's Keith Johnson's report from a gathering of corporate executives hosted by The Wall Street Journal today:

Their conclusions? The federal government has to put a pricetag on emissions of greenhouse gases one way or the other in order to make the transition to a clean-energy economy work. Duke’s Jim Rogers, a vocal leader of cap-and-trade booster group USCAP, said that “decarbonizing” the electric power sector can’t be done unless greenhouse-gas emissions carry a pricetag.

What’s more, the gloomy economic climate offers the perfect opportunity to start, not an excuse for inaction, Mr. Rogers said. “This is just the time, because we’ll get a more reasoned approach” to economy-wide regulation, he said. But he stressed that changing the nation’s energy mix in the space of a few decades “won’t be cheap, and it won’t be easy.”

What's more, about 61 percent of the execs in the audience voted in favor of "a cap-and-trade scheme to curb emissions." Now, granted, the wrangling over details will end up fracturing this coalition to some extent, and yes, lots (maybe all) of these corporations are rent-seekers hoping to profit from the new emissions-trading regime, but still, this counts as major momentum in favor of climate action.

--Bradford Plumer