Last November, shortly after he gained re-election with the support of environmental organizations, President Barack Obama signed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act into law. The law creates new government spending to help airlines based in the United States evade accountability for the large amounts of carbon dioxide pollution released by the fleets of airplanes they send shuttling back and forth over the Atlantic Ocean. Instead of providing the climate action that Obama promised, this new law of his actually helps to block action to deal with climate change.
As justification for his support of this anti-environmental legislation, Obama promised that he would push hard for an alternative global agreement through the International Civil Aviation Organization at the United Nations.
That was six months ago. So, what has Obama done in the meantime? Not much.
The Reuters office in the UK notes, “So far progress at the ICAO on finding any other approach has been slow.” What progress has been made is progress toward a replacement of the European carbon trading scheme with a weaker agreement that doesn’t attempt to regulate carbon dioxide emissions at all.
The European system itself was a weakened system that compromised with polluters, allowing them to create a legal right to pollute that could be traded as an entitlement. So, Obama’s approach is to weakly promote a weakening of a previously weakened system.
Weak: That word sums up Barack Obama’s commitment to dealing with climate change.
Obama promised he would work “tirelessly” to confront climate change.
In reality, after his big speeches were done, Obama has been more listless than tireless.