Obama has made much of his renewed determination to tackle sustainability in his second term, and opponents and supporters alike are looking to test that resolve
Barack Obama’s first term was a disappointment to many environmentalists, and to many sustainability-focused businesses. The failure to pass cap-and-trade emissions trading legislation through the Senate, under-achievement on his target of five million new green jobs over 10 years, and a lack of support for clean business when confronted by fossil fuel interests all annoyed those who campaigned hopefully for a fresh start in 2008.
Since re-election, Obama has shown he intends to act on the environment during his second term. Having hardly mentioned the issue during the 2012 presidential campaign, he told a victory rally in November 2012 that he didn’t want the US “threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet”. Then, at his inauguration, he said: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Do such statements portend a shift to sustainability in the next three-plus years, and not just on the climate issue? Will we see more support for sustainable business in general? Can Obama get consequential things done?
The pessimistic answer is “no” – because, structurally, Obama’s position is not much changed. Congress is set up more or less the same as it...