Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Don't you think that the Obama adminstration's pursuit climate change policy, both within a hostile US Congress, as well as with major, oil-dependent trading partners such as China, is an aggressive means of transitioning from oil and other limited fossil energy sources?  He is picking up where Clinton and Gore left it after brokering the Kyoto accord, and he is finding substantial domestic and international opposition to that project, particularly from China and India, where increase in oil consumption has grown the most, I believe.

The US has accounted for approximately 27% of world GDP for decades (essentially unchanged over the last 40 or more years, which compares to an EU-27 decline in percentage of world GDP from 40% to just over 30% and an increase in Japanese, and later Chinese and Indian, proportions accordingly). If you're correct that the US accounts for 25% of consumption of total world oil production, it means that the US already uses less oil than its proportion of economic output, and this means that capping oil use by rising economic powers in China and elsewhere is likely to be a more important factor in smoothing the transition from oil to more sustainable energy sources.

In order to do that, Obama will have to abandon his "pro" rhetoric on free trade, which the WTO has already done, and begin to open a discourse which allows greenhouse gas reduction compliance to be a part of domestic trade policies -- that tariffs can be placed on exports from countries that don't do enough to reduce emissions of GHGs. That is what will produce that smoothest and fastest transition from oil to other energy sources and use infrastructures.  But that project also entails co-opting former colonial areas to once again surrender their interests to those of former imperial powers, and that's not an easy political objective, even for a whiz like Obama.

by santiago on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 01:38:20 PM EST

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