THE 44th president of the United States (US), Barack Obama, promised change on the campaign trail especially with regard to the US’s Green credentials. He set out ambitious environmental targets which include ensuring that 10 per cent of US electricity supply comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 per cent by 2025; introducing a cap-and-trade programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent by 2050; creation of 5 million new jobs by investing $150bn in green technology companies over the next 10 years; target to save more oil than US imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years and 1 million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015.
It is estimated that Americans constitute 5 per cent of the world’s population but consume 24 per cent of the world’s energy. According to the American Associate for the Advancement of Science , the United States is the world’s largest consumer in absolute terms. It takes the greatest share of 11 out of 20 major traded commodities. These include corn, coffee, copper, lead, zinc, tin, aluminum, rubber, oil seeds, oil and natural gas.
It is also the largest per capita consumer. If we look at meat consumption China with the world’s largest population is the highest overall producer and consumer of meat. However, the US has the largest per capita consumption of meat. An average US citizen consumes more than three times the global average of 37 kilos per person per year. This is in sharp comparison with Africans who consume less than half the global average, and South Asians consume the least, at under 6 kilos per person per year.
In his augural speech President Obama defended the American way of life: “With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is If stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”
If President Obama is serious about his new environmental agenda then he will need to change rather than defend the US way of life. Lets hope for the sake of the planet that Obama can deliver his agenda of change.
© Gary Haq 2009