Yet many energy analysts say the Democratic Illinois senator faces a rocky road in meeting his campaign promise to enact an aggressive mandatory cap on greenhouse gases. The early months of the new administration will provide signals of whether the nation’s new leader intends to move full throttle on global warming or defer it to deal with more pressing issues, such as the economy, they say.

“It will be crucial to watch the public statements all the way down the line, from the president to people going through confirmations,” said Manik Roy, director of congressional affairs at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “Are they just saying ‘climate change,’ or are they saying ‘cap and trade’?”

In his victory remarks on election night, Obama gave few hints of his immediate intent on climate, mentioning the word “energy” only once in a broad speech that invoked the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. He noted that his climb as president would be steep and said, “We may not get there in one year, or even in one term.”