While the last year has seen Barack Obama hogging the limelight of US politics, his new Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel prize-winning physicist, has been emerging as a refreshingly honest and practical voice to combat climate change. Unlike most politicos in his position, Chu is more concerned with results than process.

His calls for flat roofs to be painted white (to reflect more solar energy back into space without contributing to climate change), his embracing of ideas such as 'negawatts' - energy you don't use, and his energetic participation in bike-to-work day have really endeared him to me, but green groups are not so sure. He has been attacked for changing his mind on permitting coal fired powerstations and has slashed funding for the hydrogen economy. His focus instead has been on energy efficiency and biofuels.

But his biggest challenge will be to win over his fellow US politicians in Congress - resistance to carbon reductions is fierce and entrenched, with Rep Joe Barton declaring recently "Carbon dioxide is natural - you can't regulate God". Quite.

Good luck to him!

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