The Obama victory: green relief and rallying cries

In the immediate aftermath of President Barack Obama’s election victory, the clean and green tech press were quick to hit the Internet with a collective sigh of relief and rallying cries for a second-term agenda that includes serious action on climate change.

Writing on ClimateProgress.org, Joe Romm laid down the second-term challenge for the President and the country:

Obama’s legacy — and indeed the legacy of  all 21st century presidents, starting with George W. Bush — will be  determined primarily by whether we avert catastrophic climate change.

If we don’t, then Obama — indeed, all of us — will be seen as failures, and rightfully so.

The clean tech sector is also breathing easier, writes Katie Fehrenbacher on Gigaom.com.

But it’s beyond just a victory — it’s a chance of survival for next-gen energy innovators and startups, which have had an extremely difficult past 18 months. Many of them will now at least continue to have an opportunity to compete on their merits. . . . cleantech will soon start turning a corner. With this news, it just has — the chief who clearly supports the development of these technologies, will be returning. Now we just need to get him talking about climate change, again.

Meanwhile, on the Huffington Post website, Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, set out a five-point action plan for Obama’s second term, with aggressive policies to halt climate change leading the list.

The urgency of this crisis is manifested in the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, record droughts, massive wildfires, disappearing coral reefs, floods and a terrible, continuous stream of bleak headlines. Left unchecked, climate change threatens millions of people around the globe and countless species already on the brink of extinction. It’s time to stop waiting for someone else, including Congress, to lead. The best way to start: Fully harness existing laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to reduce carbon pollution.

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, also on the Huffington Post, observed another key aspect of the Obama victory — it came in the face of massive election spending by fossil fuel interests mostly supportive of Mitt Romney.

As opposed to the frequent press criticism about “climate silence,” Beinecke wrote:

Energy issues figured prominently in this election. Candidates mentioned it frequently on the stump and it was among the top three topics discussed in campaign ads.  Oil, gas, and coal companies tried to influence the debate by spending more than $150 million in campaign ads by mid-September. Polluters’ anti-environmental messages were reflected on the campaign trail, where Governor Mitt Romney ran on a platform of more drilling, more coal-fired power plants, more climate paralysis, and weaker pollution standards.

Yet despite the dirty ad blitzes and the anti-environmental policy proposals, voters rejected this outdated vision for our country. Poll after poll has identified people’s preference for a clean energy economy.

The question now is whether Obama might be willing to use the political capital raised by Superstorm Sandy and this solid election win to put forward an aggressive climate change and green-tech agenda and fight for it.