Obama Administration starts defining climate policy
Washington D.C., 27 January - Just days after taking office, US President Barack Obama has appointed a climate envoy and cleared the way for new rules to force automakers to produce cleaner cars.
The President signed papers aimed to prod the struggling US auto industry to design new fuel-efficient vehicles. His Administration is also considering whether to allow California to regulate car emissions, which are blamed for contributing to global warming. The move could prompt 18 states to put in place tougher emission limits than federal standards over coming months.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton appointed Todd Stern as the Administration's Special Envoy on climate change.
"With the appointment today of a special envoy, we are sending an unequivocal message that the United States will be energetic, focused, strategic and serious about addressing global climate change and the corollary issue of clean energy," Clinton said as she announced Stern's appointment.
Stern - who was a senior White House official under Bill Clinton - will be the administration's chief climate negotiator, leading talks at the United Nations climate conferences and smaller sessions.
"Containing climate change will require nothing less than transforming the global economy from a high-carbon to a low-carbon energy base," Stern said as his appointment was announced.
"But done right, this can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and become a driver for economic growth in the 21st century. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have left no doubt that a new day is dawning in the U.S. approach to climate change and clean energy."
"The time for denial, delay and dispute is over," he added. "The time for the United States to take up its rightful place at the negotiating table is here. We can only meet the climate challenge with a response that is genuinely global. We will need to engage in vigorous, dramatic diplomacy."
Stern coordinated the Clinton administration's Initiative on Global Climate Change from 1997 to 1999, acting as the senior White House negotiator in the Kyoto and Buenos Aires talks on climate change. More recently, he has worked as a senior fellow at Center for American Progress think tank, where he focused on climate change and environmental issues.