High Environmental Hopes Riding on Obama's Green Promises

WASHINGTON, DC, November 5, 2008 (ENS) - Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama and his team with messages of hope and pledges of support rolled in today from environmental and sustainable business groups across the political spectrum.

The Sierra Club said in a statement, "If the Obama administration is as smartly, deliberately, and thoughtfully run as his presidential campaign, our country and our future are in very capable hands."

Obama declared in his victory speech, "We cannot go back to the old way of doing things."

The groups agree and each organization - from the investors of the Ceres Group to the grassroots members of Defenders of Wildlife - has words of advice for Obama along with their congratulations and compliments.

Many groups are reminding Obama of his pledge to make clean energy his top priority, to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, kickstart economic recovery, create millions of jobs, and curb climate change.

Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense said, "This election offers us the greatest opportunity we have ever had to change course on global warming."

"We must do everything we can to pass climate legislation here at home and to craft a global compact that unites the world against the common enemy of rising temperatures, melting ice caps, erratic weather and the spread of disease," said Krupp.

Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, the largest coalition of investors, environmental and public interest organizations in North America, said members of her group want the Obama administration and Congress to curb global warming by passing legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 1990 by 2020, and 80 percent below the benchmark by 2050.

Ceres urges reform of the capital markets to require "honest accounting of financial risks that companies and investors face from climate change."

An Obama administration should end tax incentives and subsidies for high carbon-emitting technologies and projects and enact mandates that 20 percent of the nation’s electricity come from renewable power by 2020 and at least 30 percent by 2030, Lubber said.

"The new administration and Congress must shun the excuse that it is 'too expensive' to act to curb global warming, to treat our resources as limited, or to end our allegiance to high-carbon fuels," said Lubber. "It is too expensive not to act, and the cost of inaction in a future world of 9 billion people is what Barack Obama last night called "a planet in peril."

"It is a world in a headlong rush toward climate instability, water scarcity, high food prices, deeper global poverty, and locked in a perilous addiction to oil and coal," she said.

"The reward for action is a green and sustainable economy that creates new business opportunities, trains a legion of new workers, helps heal the environment and assures our future," Lubber said. "We believe investors, companies and those who work for them are just waiting for the signals from Washington to begin this work. Those signals should come quickly - in the first 12 months of the new administration."

With 750,000 members and activists, Environment America and its federation of state environment groups endorsed Obama for president and 29 candidates for Congress and lobbied swing voters on behalf of their candidates.

"This election pitted the energy policy of last 30 years against that of the next 30 years," said Anna Aurilio, director of Environment America's Washington, DC office. ""This is now a clean energy Congress - 65 percent of new House members and all of the new Senate members come from states with strong renewable electricity requirements."

"Senator McCain focused on the oil, coal and nukes of the past, while Senator Obama called for a new energy economy fueled by renewable energy such as wind and solar, investments in clean technologies of the future and five million new jobs. From Senator Obama on down the ballot, the candidates who won were talking about a clean energy future and voters understood that this was the key to a stronger economy, a more secure world and the solution to global warming," she said.

The Alliance to Save Energy today urged Obama to fulfill his campaign promise to make building a sustainable energy future for America a key priority upon taking office in January.

"The Obama-Biden 'New Energy for America' plan contains many exciting, creative, and urgently needed energy-efficiency actions," said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. "The Alliance stands ready to help our new president and his team deliver a new energy future for America that is built on a bedrock of energy efficiency."

The Apollo Alliance of environmental, labor and business organizations said, "President-elect Barack Obama’s priority list jives with Apollo’s clean energy, good job goals. Sweeping Democratic victories in yesterday’s elections are expected to bring good fortune to wind and solar interests and hope to all those interested in stabilizing the climate."

With his congratulations, Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Steven Sanderson said, "Our nation is positioned to be a world leader in saving wildlife and wild places across the globe, including policies to address climate change." He encourages the incoming administration and Congress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, "including reducing rates of deforestation which may account for 20 percent of all global carbon emissions."

"Efforts such as these are good for both wildlife and humanity," said Sanderson, "which share a common future as creatures inhabiting the same planet."

The historic victories of President-elect Barack Obama and environmental champions in Congress create a new era of opportunity for environmental priorities, said Defenders of Wildlife president Rodger Schlickeisen.

"A new day is dawning in Congress and the White House. Environmental champions won major victories at the polls yesterday, and the prospects for environmental progress in 2009 look bright," he said, urging them to tackle global warming, safeguard endangered species and better protect wildlife on public lands.

"Let's be clear - we have a lot of work ahead of us. We've just had eight years of the most anti-environmental presidency America has ever seen," said Schlickeisen. "Reversing the damage done by the Bush administration will take years of hard work."

"Defenders of Wildlife looks forward to working with President Obama and our champions in Congress to reverse President Bush's assault on our environment and promote a green economy for the people and wildlife of America."

The Center for Biological Diversity looks forward to working with the Obama administration and the new Congress to take swift action to stem the extinction crisis, reverse the current course toward runaway global warming, and promote the cultural diversity that is the essential foundation of a fulfilling life for all peoples, plants, and animals," said Executive Director Kierán Suckling.

"Mass extinction, global warming, and erosion of diversity are the greatest threats humanity has ever faced," he said. "The time left to address them is growing short. In our 20 years advocating for wildlife, wilderness, and untamed culture, we've never before witnessed a presidential election with so much promise to actually solve these issues."

Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, "Our members sense the opportunity to achieve things that seemed improbable if not impossible only a year ago. For our members, this is the culmination of a decade of work to build a progressive, people-driven politics in America."

After endorsing President-elect Obama in February, MoveOn's 4.5 million members contributed more than $88 million towards Obama's presidential campaign, the organization announced today. More than one million MoveOn members worked in a coordinated field effort with the Obama campaign.

"President Obama will face daunting challenges from the day he takes office," said Pariser. "We look forward, however, to being part of the enormous wave of civic and political engagement that his Presidency has inspired and that will enable him to achieve the things that have been on the top of his agenda and ours. We look forward to the change all of us worked so hard to create."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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