Barack Obama statements on a post-Kyoto global warming agreement

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Learn more from the Center for Media and Democracy's research on climate change.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama pledged during the election campaign to "re-engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) -- the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem."

2008 Election campaign statements

Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, stated that they would "also create a Global Energy Forum of the world's largest emitters to focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues." They also pledge to implement a domestic "cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050" with "all pollution credits to be auctioned, and proceeds will go to investments in a clean energy future, habitat protections, and rebates and other transition relief for families."[1]

In a video address to a global warming summit in California attended by U.S. governors and representatives from other nations, Obama stated that he could not attend the COP14 talks in Poznan in December, reminding his audience that, "the United States has only one president at a time.” He said, however, “Once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.” [2]

Obama went on to make the key pledge that the United States would once again accept targets to reduce its own emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. “We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020,” he said, “and reduce them by an additional 80 percent by 2050.”[2]

According to The Independent, Obama says he is committed to “pumping $150 billion into transforming the economy to cut oil consumption dramatically and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” purportedly starting with U.S. car manufacturers “to ensure they make hybrid or petrol-sipping cars.” [2]

Record in the Illinois Senate

While in the Illinois Legislature, President-elect Obama had previously voted in favor of a bill condemning the Kyoto global warming treaty and forbidding state efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. In a response to his vote on the bill, which passed in May 1998, Obama’s presidential campaign said, “that the Kyoto treaty did not have meaningful and achievable emissions targets” and that Obama “did not believe that state agencies in Illinois should unilaterally take steps to implement a global policy on their own.” [3]

Articles and Resources


  1. Obama-Biden campaign,"New Energy for America", Obama-Biden campaign website, accessed November 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Leonard Doyle and Michael McCarthy, “Obama brings US in from the cold”, The Independent, November 20, 2008.
  3. Ken Dilanian, “Obama shifts environmental stance”, USA Today, July 18, 2008.

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