President Obama declared October “National Energy Awareness Month” Wednesday, in a statement published on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) website. Obama underscored the role of energy efficiency and clean energy in the well-being of the nation’s economy and the environment. He also called on the American people to focus on making clean energy choices – the only call to action in the statement. Will creating an energy awareness month have any real effect on sustainable development?
Investing in clean energy, including research and technology development, would have a number of benefits, Obama’s statement said. For example, in addition to protecting the environment, it would increase global competitiveness, decrease oil use, improve national security, and support communities. Clean energy expansion would also demonstrate “American leadership and vision while also making clean energy the profitable kind of energy.” Accordingly, “National Energy Awareness Month” will be a time to recognize these benefits and distinguish contributors to the clean energy movement.
The statement also acknowledged the Federal Government’s role in energy consumption – it’s the largest energy consumer in the U.S. – and emphasized the Obama Administration’s commitment to “leading by example” in clean energy use. The Administration is “ushering in a new era of green energy” through state and local grants, job training programs, and sustainable business policies, the statement said.
Given Congress’ stalemate over greenhouse gas legislation and the international community’s pressure on the U.S. to act on climate change, Obama’s statement could be seen as more of a rhetorical maneuver or a placeholder in the absence of real environmental action. Moreover, even if a commemorative holiday does influence Americans’ everyday energy choices, it won’t likely help us create a climate bill in time for the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (which is seen by many as the key to a lasting climate solution).
What do you think of Obama’s declaring October “National Energy Awareness Month”?