Can Obama break the international emissions deadlock?


June 6, 2014

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In an instant, President Obama has re-established leadership of the global warming debate at a time of significant drift.

This is good news. And not just for the green brigade. Who in the past have gotten excited about such talk, only to have their hopes dashed.

No, this time there’s far more promise and substance to the discussion. And for the industry and for entrepreneurial types, that’s hugely important.

Obama’s commitment is not, as many of his critics have been quick to claim, something that is going to kill jobs and raise the price of electricity.

And also it’s not something that’s going to kill off the 600 coal-fired power stations that are currently in operation, either.

At least, it’s not going to kill off those generators that are quick to implement carbon capture and storage programmes and develop new mechanisms to reduce their emissions and extend the life of the plants.

You see, the reality is that with Obama having regained the upper hand in the international emissions debate, he’s broken a significant industry deadlock.

A deadlock that has in recent years seen India and China proceed with their own domestic plans and that left the 2009 global summit in Copenhagen floundering, before the discussion had even began.

Yet, five years on, breaking that deadlock remains vitally important.

Because the fact remains that tightening the regulatory framework can still have a positive impact. We only need look at the toughening of vehicle emissions standards, for example, to see just how effective this can really be.

Yes, it’s true, too much political interference can create a burden as opposed to a benefit. But right now, that political engagement is sorely needed.

Since a tightening of the rules will only help to foster greater industry competitiveness and innovation in the future.

Indeed, if we stick with the example of vehicle emissions, you only need to take a look at the surge of industrial development with hybrid technology and battery powered transport, to recognise the positive commercial impacts it can bring.

For the US President of course, this is good politics – coming during a time when he’s looking to define and shape his second term in office.

However, the ripples of his commitment are already being felt. China has been quick to respond with confirmation of an emissions cap in its next five year plan, kicking off in 2015.

And when leaders gather in Paris in 12 months, there’s suddenly so much more potential to securing genuine global commitment, than ever before.

That may now feel a long way removed for the daily operations of a wind operator, developer and investor.

However, be under no illusion; Obama’s commitment marks an important milestone for future market investment, innovation and growth.[/private/]

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