Obama to tackle climate change in speech
June 22nd, 2013
04:36 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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. Tom L.

    Again, another way for govt to control the masses. Nothing more, nothing less. They could care less about the subject. They just see this particular topic as an opportunity to have more control over you.

    June 23, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Thomas

    @Rick McDaniel
    He simply makes a fool of himself, because it takes ALL countries to impact climate change.......not just the U.S.


    Climate change is a world problem . Are we going to lead , or are we going to fallow ?

    Listening to people such as yourself , it will be irreversible by the time you change.

    June 23, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. Hell

    Politicians are pretentious thieves, they will never really try to tackle global warming. This planet will rot

    June 23, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. H.B.

    Of COURSE it will take ALL countries to combat global warming. Nobody is saying this isn't so. But the U.S. is a leader nation. Setting the example is something required of leaders, although many choose to ignore this.

    If the U.S. does set an example, it'll be harder for other nations to explain why they are not making the same choices. That's the beginning of encouraging them to change their own policies to more environmentally responsible ones.

    And in so doing, they'd all be reducing other forms of pollution, too, the kind that directly impacts on human health. China's dangerous smog, and Shanghai's dangerous smoke from Indonesia's slash-and-burn policies. Those may contribute only a little to climate change, but they ARE contributing to human deaths. To put a lid on one also puts a lid on the other, and both are very urgently needed.

    The climate-change deniers have their own ulterior motives and agendas that they feel they must serve, even at the cost to humanity that ignoring climate change will surely bring to us all.

    Like maybe extinction.

    We've seen scores and scores of extremes in weather patterns. While the deniers say such things have happened beore and will therefore happen again, they ignore the fact that so many such extremes, which, in nature, might happen every hundred or more years, are occurring every single year, and in increasing numbers and intensity. They get around the visibly global impact by ignoring the globe, and focusing only on single events: a single extraordinarily powerful tornado or hurricane, a single drought, a single extraordinarily heavy rainfall that causes more than average flooding, a single case of polar melting, etc.

    They choose to view the forest only as individual trees. They also know already that global climate change IS going on, but prefer to pretend it isn't, for reasons that are usually rather self-serving and unlovely.

    Climate is, and always has been, a global thing. To view it as separate incidents here or there has never defined climate globally, and never will. Every aspect of climate in one area affects, and is affected BY, other aspects of climate occurring elsewhere. It's a dynamic interlocking of causes and effects that is so complex that we can never know everything about all of it. But we can know enough to realize that its nature has changed, and for the warmer. And we know, too, that human activity is behind most of that change.

    When the deniers claim that controlling climate change is some kind of grand conspiracy, they seem to forget that their posture would be all the better for proof.

    There IS no government, no agency of any kind, that can MAKE the entire community of world scientists say something that isn't so. For a handful of them that choose to deny the science of climate change only speaks to their own hidden agendas on the matter.

    Climate change is REAL, and is going on RIGHT NOW, right in front of our own eyes. We can't deny what we can see going on for ourselves. To cave in to a handful of scientists who deny the reality is irrational and self-destructive, for all of humanity.

    June 23, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
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