UNEP: Obama's Policies Create Optimism for Copenhagen

From his selection of a top-notch administrative "green team" in January, to his announcement in February of a stimulus package to jumpstart clean energy and build a green economy, U.S. President Barack Obama has shown environmental leadership in his first 100 days in office, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Significantly, his progressive environmental policies have triggered global optimism that governments might be able to seal a climate change deal in Copenhagen this December. Speaking at a forum at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in April, Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner urged the U.S. Congress to pass an energy bill to spur the development of renewable energy while curbing the emissions that contribute to global warming.

The Obama team recognizes that a Green New Deal and Green Economy can be a vital component in catalyzing a sustainable economic upturn. Obama's $787-billion stimulus package contains significant levels of green investment—well over $100 billion by some estimates, including billions for refitting existing buildings to make them more energy efficient, high-speed rail lines and commuter transit, and updating the electric grid.

According to UNEP's Global Green New Deal policy brief, these three sectors—renewable energy, energy efficient buildings, and sustainable transport—can play an important role in reviving the global economy and boosting employment while accelerating the fight against climate change, environmental degradation and poverty.

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