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President-elect Barack Obama and once-presidential-hopeful Al Gore met today to discuss (what else) “energy, climate change, and job creation — and how those three things go together.” Obama didn’t say what role Gore will play in his administration but pledged that the former VP will be part of the plan to “create jobs all across this country in all 50 states to re-power America.” The meeting, reportedly called at Gore’s request, is perhaps the strongest pitch Obama will get from the cleantech community.
Gore has outlined a five-step plan to achieve his goal of generating 100 percent of the U.S.’s electricity from renewable sources in 10 years. Though Obama hasn’t agreed to Gore’s lofty goal, he has committed, in varying degrees, to implementing Gore’s recommendations. Obama has promised to boost the energy efficiency of federal buildings, work with governors to promote clean energy, invest huge amounts in our electrical infrastructure and help Detroit retool to become a leader in green cars.
The elephant in the room is still the issue of carbon regulation. During the campaign, Obama said he was in favor of a cap-and-trade scheme, but since the economic crisis has taken the spotlight, carbon mitigation has been quietly looming in the corner. Putting a price on carbon, either through a carbon market or with a tax, as Gore himself suggests, is the greatest boost the government could give clean technologies.
But the cynical question posed by MSNBC isn’t how far Gore can push Obama to clean up our energy sector; it’s how much will Obama ask Gore to publicly temper his climate crisis rhetoric? While Obama has said renewable energy and energy efficiency will play vital roles in boosting the economy, he probably won’t go as far as Gore would like, given the stormy financial climate.
So, can Obama fight for cleantech while battling a recession? We hope Gore is able to explain how the only way to fight the recession is with cleantech.
Image courtesy of Change.gov