WASHINGTON — One of the U.S. Senate’s top campaigners against global warming on Wednesday sought to ease international concerns, vowing President Barack Obama was committed to action on climate change.
Some European nations have voiced uncertainty about whether Obama and the U.S. Congress can follow through on promises to force sharp reductions in carbon emissions due to the terrible state of the U.S. economy.
But Senator Bernie Sanders said tens of billions of dollars would go to action on climate change as part of Obama’s package to stimulate the world’s largest economy.
“Follow the money on this one. You can say anything you want to say, but he is investing in all of the right things,” Sanders told reporters. “I think he’s off to a pretty good start.”
“It’s an easy issue to withdraw from, but he hasn’t,” said Sanders, a left-leaning independent who votes with Obama’s Democratic Party in procedural matters.
“I think the world understands that with the election of Obama, our face toward the world has radically changed,” he said. “We’re going to work with the world.”
Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol on global warming as one of his first acts in office in 2001, saying it was too costly and unfair by making no demands of fast-growing developing countries.
Negotiators meet in December in Copenhagen to approve a new environmental treaty covering the period after 2012 when Kyoto’s obligations expire.
Sanders, who serves on the Senate’s environment and energy committees, conceded that economic concerns were hitting sentiment in Congress but called for green technology to be seen as a job creator.
The Vermont senator was taking part in the launch of a study arguing that the United States can reduce carbon emissions by 83 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 while sharply expanding employment.
The study, commissioned from the German Aerospace Center space agency by environmental group Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council, calls for dramatic increases in wind, solar and other green energies.
The blueprint would phase out all coal and nuclear power but said that despite the job losses, the United States would have a net gain of more than 14.5 million jobs in the energy sector by 2050.