Democrat nominee Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain pledged to improve the US record on the environment as they accepted their official nominations.

Accepting the Democratic nomination for president in front of thousands of supporters, Senator Obama said climate change was a threat of the 21st century, alongside terrorism and poverty.

His plans for the environment include creating 5m new green collar jobs, ensuring 25% of electricity comes from renewable sources by 2025, and putting a million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015.

He also set out an ambitious goal to end the US’ dependence on oil from the Middle East within ten years.

Senator Obama said: “Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them.

“In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

“Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution.”

Making his own acceptance speech, Senator McCain also pledged to reduce US dependence on foreign oil, but attacked Senator Obama’s claim that drilling was not the answer.

He told supporters: “We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we’ll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology.

“We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.

“Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that.”

But Senator McCain’s stance has not met with approval from environmental organisation the Sierra Club.

Speaking on the day of Senator McCain’s speech, executive director Carl Pope said: “While he was once willing to stand up to his own party, now that he is running for President he supports the same Bush policies and powerful special interests that put our economy in the grip of the oil companies.”

Kate Martin

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