The President was on target during his speech on climate change at Georgetown University when he announced new initiatives to curb the release of greenhouse gases and thereby slow down the effects of climate change. However, a key aspect to meeting this huge challenge is to set national goals based on specific timetables. Without President Kennedy setting a goal to land an American on the moon by a specific date, it is doubtful that we would have ever achieved this.
President Obama’s goal-setting in his recent speech was incomplete and rather imbalanced. There was a goal to double renewable energy on federal lands, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17% relative to year 2005 is often referred to as a goal for the year 2020. But without a goal with a specific date and a specific action to be accomplished, a project of this great magnitude is unlikely to develop a meaningful action plan and may never be implemented. The President needs to go beyond this first important speech and provide these missing goals, along with directives to different federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, to require them to develop action plans on what needs to be done to achieve such goals.
Should there be goals for energy conservation and nuclear power, which today produces about two thirds of the carbon free electricity in this country? Should we not have a goal, by 2020, to get our energy input per unit of GDP down to levels achieved by other industrialized nations? Are there other goals that should be included?