Obama to tackle climate change in speech
June 22nd, 2013
04:36 PM ET
1 year ago

Obama to tackle climate change in speech

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama will announce his plans to "reduce carbon pollution" in a climate change speech next week, the White House announced Saturday.

"There's no single step that can reverse the effects of climate change. But when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can," Obama said in a video released on the White House's YouTube page.

In his inauguration address in January, Obama committed to taking action on climate change. But six months into his second term, the president has yet to make any big steps on the issue.

While the Obama administration has already moved to limit greenhouse gas emissions for new coal power plants, environmentalists hoped that his inauguration speech signaled a commitment to implement the same standards on existing coal power - a huge undertaking.

"Establishing strong pollution standards for new and existing power plants is critical for protecting our families and our planet from runaway climate disruption and is something our coalition has worked mightily to achieve," the Sierra Club's executive director, Michael Brune, said in a statement.

The Natural Resources Defense Council also issued a statement Saturday, calling for the administration to back carbon standards at existing plants.

"Combating climate change means curbing carbon pollution - for the first time ever - from the biggest single source of such dangerous gases: our coal-fired power plants," the group's president, Frances Beinecke, said. "We stand ready to help President Obama in every way we can."

Environmentalists have been urging the president to work through executive action, rather than try to get policy passed by Congress.

The president did not outline specific policies in the newly-released video, but hinted he would do so in his speech Tuesday at Georgetown University.

"I'll lay out my vision for where I believe we need to go - a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it," he said, looking directly into the camera.

The 90-second video features footage of severe weather, glaciers and landscapes across the country.

"This is a serious challenge - but it's one uniquely suited to America's strengths," Obama said.

While the idea of long-term climate change is a controversial notion politically, it's accepted as fact by most researchers.

Recent polls show about two-thirds of Americans consider climate change a serious problem. According to a Pew Research Center survey in March, 65% of Americans said the issue is either very serious or somewhat serious, while 20% said it's not a problem.

A separate March poll from Gallup indicated nearly half - 47% - of Americans think the U.S. government is doing too little to protect the environment, while 35% said the government was doing the right amount and 16% said it was doing too much.

– CNN's Ashley Killough, Kevin Bohn, Greg Seaby and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: climate change • Energy • President Obama
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Shawn Gray

    Reality check. Real science has other scientists check the data of what they research. East Anglia won't release how they get their data. Computer models are only as good as the data they are supporting. Do you remember in the 1970's when we were going into another ice age, according to Time Magazine? Do you remember 1990's when Florida was going to be under water in 25 years? Do you remember when they went from calling Global Warming into Climate Change, because the average mean temperature over the past 17 years is zero? That is just the beginning of the movement by the liberal scientist that firmly believe that we are destroying the world because of polution, and will strike fear in all because they want to push this agenda. How better than to do this than come up with a scare tactic that has no solution for 100 years and makes everyone feel like they are guilty. This is a common human characteristic that man has held for thousands of years. That we are so powerful that we control the weather around us and natural events that occur. Islanders didn't know how to explain volcanic eruptions so they thought they had done bad and threw poor little virgin girls into the volcanos. Greeks came up with Gods that were solely based around weather. When a bad event happened they thought it was because they had a God mad at them for things they had done or not done. Reality. The world goes through stages that last thousands of years. We have had ice ages, long droughts, terrible hurricanes and massive blizzards long before time was ever kept. We have no clue what the average temperature was 200 years ago. 500 years ago we didn't even know the earth was round. Now we have scientists telling us they know how much the temperture has risen in the past 200 years and what it is going to be 100 years from now. Really? I mean are you serious that I'm suppose to believe this for even a moment? The ice caps have been melting for the past 10,000 years. We are just now getting to the point where instead of the ice being less thick, it is melting away. Also the one thing we knew we were doing was destroying the Ozone and since getting rid of the chemicals that do harm to this thin layer of atmosphere we are seeing the North and South poles slowly repair themselves. We know when ozone is destoyed more radiation and other variations of light get through to earth's surface. When there is little to no ozone people are more vulnerable to skin cancer. The poles attract radiation more than any other parts of the earth because of the magnetic attraction of those areas. Combine a weak ozone to massive radiation and you just may get nice boost in ice melting. However, that issue will repair itself in the next 50 to 60 years. Plus lets look at greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases suppose to work like a blanket on the earth because they reflect the heat back toward Earth. My question is the heat is coming from the SUN. If the heat is coming from the SUN wouldn't these greenhouse gases be reflecting more heat from Earth than toward Earth? It makes no sense to me at all that it would heat the Earth, if anything it would cool the Earth. By definition the #1 Greenhouse gas is water. Water makes up over 30% of the greenhouse effect according to scientist in global warming. Nobody can convince me that water makes the Earth hotter. That is absurd to every logical bone I have in my body! One day we all will get real with this issue and find something else to be scared about. LOL

    June 22, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. nintex

    "But six months into his second term, the president has yet to make any big steps on the issue..." That wouldn't have anything to do with all the "scandal" garbage the Republicans are throwing at him, would it? The 20% who think climate change is not a problem are too busy listening to Fox News and Michelle Bachmann to listen to any actual facts – you know, those things that can be proven scientifically? Good luck, President Obama, trying to get anything passed through Congress – maybe executive action is the only way to save the environment -don't wait for the Tea Party to help you – they would rather eat dirt than do anything to help the country (or make President Obama look successful).

    June 22, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  3. apragmitist

    hey you two have you noticed the strength of the tornados lately? hurricane sandy. warmest temperature on average last year in history. ice melting, oceans rising. these are facts not an effort to get attention. who is to benefit if we point these things out. we must reduce our carbon usage or it wont matter what our economy does if we have no place for it to operate. to larry there is no IRS scandal read the facts before you open your biased big mouth. Obama is in power because he won an election by 5,000,000 plus votes. he will be there until 2017 so get over it already. its called democracy!! i remember a guy in 2000 who lost an election by 500,000 votes and had the supreme court elect him. he will go down as the worst president in history. squandered surplus,two wars. the great recession, medicare d ALL unfunded!!! outing a CIA agent and the list goes on.

    June 22, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  4. HenryMiller

    The "carbon polution" we need to reduce is that carbon-based life-form, Obama.

    June 22, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  5. HenryMiller

    "...headlines from his nuke reduction and carbon emissions will help balance the negatives..."

    Hammering Americans with more energy costs is a negative.

    June 22, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  6. Harvesting

    So the logic is if the US does not burn the coal, it won't be burnt? We already sell coal to China and other countries. All this will do is mean more coal goes out of US. Reducing US coal does nothing for the limiting of coal usage, it merely goes overseas to be consumed for their power.

    June 22, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  7. Bob

    Environmentalist need to be very careful in their assumptions that gas is clean and efficient. It is neither. For example, I just read an article from the NRDC saying that gas clothes dryers were the best. No, no and no. The best dryers are vent less condenser or heat pump dryers. In Chicago, where I live, venting a dryer to the outside increases its energy use by 50 percent. This is typically not considered when determining the efficiency of the dryer. The extra cost is due to sucking in cold air from the outside so that the gas dryer can vent its pollution outside. The cold air entering the house is subsequently heated. Vent less dryers don't have this problems – and the house is more comfortable and efficient as a result. The truth is that the gas lobbyists have lied over and over again about how gas is better. Truth is that an all electric house with geothermal heat is a MUCH better option. Please don't listen to the gas company lies.

    June 22, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    It's a good thing. Less pollution is always good no matter who's side you're on.

    June 22, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  9. William Snider

    It's a good thing. Less pollution is always good no matter who's side your on.

    June 22, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  10. anonymous

    With everything else going on right now, nobody gives a damn about climate change and reducing nuclear weapons. Obama needs to wake up and get his head out of his back side. Obamacare is a train wreck in progress, the IRS, Benghazi, AP, Rosen, NSA, Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc. Nukes and climate change??? Are you kidding me???

    June 22, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  11. Big Bird

    Larry, couldn't have said it better man.

    June 22, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  12. rla

    The rise in prices will be small compared to the multi generational cost in terms of economic fallout and social degrading

    June 22, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  13. wrm

    Don't take anything you say seriously, bud.

    June 22, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  14. optimistmiser

    World average temperatures have declined the past few years while CO2 has continued to increase. Science has proven recently that CO2 increase is primarily a result of global warming. The major cause of global warming from human activities has been proven to be CFCs. Obama continuing to push the CO2 reduction agenda is not about climate change in reality. It is about all of the business activity making this change creates. The profits and political pandering benefits.

    June 22, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  15. billy f

    More empty hot air coming from a Prez who should be labeled a traitor to the people who elected him.

    June 22, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  16. shawn poland

    oath breakers get no respect or financing from THE PEOPLE. terrorism starts with liars . i dont pay for terrorists!

    June 22, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  17. shawn poland

    oath breakers get no respect or financing from THE PEOPLE. terrorism starts with liars . i dont pay for terrorists!

    ahhh i see this crappy wordpress comment system is busy censoring people as usual..... nothing like hiding the will of the people!

    June 22, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  18. McBob79

    Dude is the most ineffective president since Jimmy Carter and maybe even before that.

    June 22, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  19. Jerry Okamura

    Is there only one way to solve the problem, or are there two ways to solve the problem? Can you either try to prevent the event from happening, and can you live with the fact it may happen and mitigate its effects? Which option has more advantages than disadvantage? How will we know, if we are not willing to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of both options?

    June 22, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  20. Ira Radnick

    This has nothing to do with carbon reduction folks. It has everything to do with carbon taxation. Like "discouragedinMI says, prepare for rising prices. This is about as stupid as the rain shed tax in MD where anyone owning land now has to pay for how much rain falls on their property because it places such a burden on runoff impact into the Chesapeaks Bay. What blithering idiots!

    June 22, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  21. Thomas

    Have any of you seen the smog in Singapore , the flooding in India , Canada ?

    This is an issue that will not stop with a fence , it's world wide. We need to take action on climate change NOW.
    Starting with birth control , sustainability , quality of life.

    Any persons in today's world having more then two children is selfish.

    June 22, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  22. CC

    If he does nothing Oceans will ries everywhere.

    June 22, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  23. Muamar Anwar Sadam Husadein III

    All the Earth can do right now is slow down the inevitable global meltdown of the poles. We can't stop it because it has happened four times in 450,000 years. But the good news is that the mini-ice age starts back up and refreezes the poles. This is evidences in theVostok data set. Humans sped up the current cycle but not even humans could prevent it even if we had a zero carbon footprint.

    June 22, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  24. CC

    Oceans will rise everywhere.

    June 22, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  25. biglio

    It's not true that there is NO single step to slow down/reverse climate change. There is, it's called Direct air capture and there are companies like Carbon engineering in Canada that offer it. Direct air capture takes CO2 directly out of the atmosphere......I'm surprise the prez is not up to date on this....

    June 22, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
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