What Obama's Victory Means for Cleantech

History was made last night — and not just because Barack Obama will become the first U.S. African American president. Obama’s victory has wide-ranging implications for U.S. energy policy and the fight against climate change. If Obama delivers on some of his pledges, he has the potential to bring significant federal support of clean technologies, a unified international fight against climate change and a necessary buildout of U.S. energy infrastructure. And yes, that means there are a lot of high expectations and hard work ahead.

Cleantech investors are certainly cheering the win — they backed Obama more than 6 to 1 over McCain. That support was due to Obama’s pledge to invest $150 billion over a decade in alternative energy, reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and introduce a cap-and-trade system to manage carbon emissions. In an email to us this morning, Josh Green, managing partner at MDV, emphasized the real economic recovery aspects, including green job creation, of Obama’s $150-billion energy plan:

President-elect Obama has a whole host of priorities that are all clamoring for attention today. While the economy is certainly the No.1 priority, I believe that cleantech is part of that solution as well…While some aspects of the plan may need to wait its turn, I think that important parts of it, primarily related to job creation and investment in new technologies can and should be part of the economic recovery package.

Paul Holland, general partner at Foundation Capital, says he thinks Obama’s $150 billion plan gives the U.S. a shot at leading the world in creating clean technology and energy innovations and building up these future massive industries; without such support the U.S. could fall behind other nations. Obama was the better choice for the cleantech community because his stance was more substantial, well-articulated and long-term, Holland tells us.

The group Cleantech for Obama, which was working on raising $1 million for the Obama campaign, put it simply last night in a blog post about the victory. Dan Farber, a law professor at UC Berkeley, who heads up the California Center on Environmental Law and Policy, wrote:

The election is over. Now the hard work begins. Change is on its way.

While it’s unclear exactly what parts of Obama’s plan he will implement first, as Green said, with the buzz around green jobs, if it’s possible to boost both the economy and the clean energy industry it’s a safe bet he’ll start there.

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