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President-elect Barack Obama just held his first post-election press conference and focused on the economy, but it is his forthcoming climate change policies that are spurring the world’s governments and businesses to start reaching out to the next administration. Politicians and business executives are maneuvering to protect the aged fossil fuel industry while also looking to grab a piece of Obama’s proposed $150 billion clean energy plan. Let the lobbying for a new climate-conscious energy economy begin in earnest!
Less than 24 hours after the U.S. election results came in, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to begin talks on a climate pact with Obama. Critics have already pointed out that Harper’s hasty move was an effort to secure concessions for the lucrative but dirty tar sands business that has been booming in that country’s province of Alberta. Harper’s administration is confident that Obama will be lenient on Canada’s oil sands as they help provide energy security. At least, that’s what they’re saying. Whether that is in fact the case remains to be seen.
Foreign companies looking to be part of Obama’s new energy economy are eager, though cautious, about the prospect of long-term incentives and regulatory certainty under his administration. European wind developers like EDF Energies Nouvelles and Siemens hope that President-elect Obama will upgrade the aging grid and allow for the trading of production tax credit rights, both of which would encourage even more wind energy development.
There’s no shortage of advice being given as to how Obama should tackle climate and energy issues. He will have to pick a decisive direction soon, especially with the UN preparing to negotiate a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol at the end of 2009, when Obama will have to prove to the world that America is ready to take the lead on climate change.