Saturday, January 31, 2009

Not feeling the spin, Mr. Prentice

Obama's stance on climate change and the potential for world leadership on the file from the U.S. being restored was discussed in Davos, Switzerland this week. It's worth looking at some of the early indications from the Obama camp given Jim Prentice's remarks yesterday, notably, his effort to tie the Harper crew to Obama's coattails:
In an interview with Canwest News Service, he said Obama's principles are "virtually identical" to those of the Conservative government and Canada's targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are "somewhat more aggressive."
Prentice also noted that a North American cap and trade system will be on the agenda at the Obama-Harper meeting on February 19. Colour me skeptical on the "identical" shtick. I find it hard to believe that the Obama administration will be following Harper's desire to adhere to 2006 base levels to measure greenhouse gas emission reductions.

So what are the indications from Obama's team at this point? Here's a note on one of Obama's top advisers, Valerie Jarrett, out of Davos:
Valerie Jarrett, President Obama's adviser on intergovernmental relations, earlier told the Davos meeting that the United States was "ready to lead" in the fight against global warming, which threatens droughts, floods, disease and rising seas.
Her speech was nevertheless criticized for a lack of specifics.

Next, a special envoy on climate change has been named by Secretary Clinton:
... Todd Stern, a lawyer and environmental expert at the Washington think tank Center for American Progress, served as an advisor for Clinton from 1993 to 1998. He played a key role in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations from 1997 to 1999, before becoming an advisor to the secretary of the treasury from 1999 to 2001.
Other appointees include Nobel prize winning scientist Steven Chu as Energy Secretary and new Climate "Czar" Carol Browner, a Gore person. Also of note, the direction of billions in the Obama stimulus package to green efforts, including "...investments in renewable energy, conservation and a better electric grid." We saw no such sweeping choices from the Harper government in their budget.

We'll see how this proceeds, but thus far, the signs from one camp are just much different from the other, despite the spin.