Sunday, 28 June 2009

Victory on climate change boosts president's position

Suzanne Goldenberg, the Observer, UK, 28 June 2009

The epic battle over universal health care is still to be fought, but Barack Obama moved to capitalise on a defining moment of his presidency yesterday - a vote in Congress to act on global warming - saying the time had arrived for America to show international leadership on climate change.

The White House shifted the topic of Obama's address from healthcare to energy after the vote, seeking to build momentum for the ambitious climate change bill ahead of its next hurdle in the Senate. The first round, in the house of representatives on Friday night, barely went to Obama. The Democratic leadership, despite making concessions to dissidents from oil and coal states, eked out only a 219-212 victory. A total of 44 Democrats opposed the bill.

But environmentalists claimed the vote as a milestone: the first time either house of Congress had acted to reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change. It was also a validation of Obama's powers of persuasion. The president put energy reform at the heart of his White House agenda and jumped into a furious lobbying effort for its passage.

In his video address, Obama sought to bring home Friday night's victory, calling on the Senate to approve the bill so that America could catch up to the rest of the world in moving to a cleaner energy economy.

"We have seen other countries realise a critical truth: the nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy," he said. "Now is the time for us to lead."

Read the article in full here.