Obama Unveils Plan to Tackle Climate Change
In a Tuesday speech at Georgetown University, President Obama laid out a plan to cement his legacy on the issue of climate change. The plan is a monumental step forward and has the power to be a turning point both U.S. climate policy and international climate negotiations.
Climate change isn’t waiting on Congressional approval and neither is Obama. Instead, the President announced a three-pillared plan, relying on executive actions, to combat climate change. His plan seeks to 1) cut carbon pollution in America, 2) prepare American communities for the impacts of climate change, and 3) lead international efforts to tackle the problem. Notably, President Obama emphasized regulating carbon emissions from new and existing power plants, which account for about 40% of total U.S. carbon emissions. He also commented on the pending Keystone pipeline decision, saying that the pipeline’s approval depended on whether or not it would increase overall greenhouse gas emissions.
In his speech, Obama repeatedly addressed the concerns of naysayers and critics, arguing that not only will this plan be good for the environment, but it will also support jobs and encourage economic development. He backed up these claims with past examples of America’s innovation and growth when the nation phased out other toxins and pollutants, such as lead and CFCs, saying, “American businesses and workers figured out how to do it better without hurting the environment as much…If you look at our history, don’t bet against American industry. Don’t bet against American workers.”
Obama called on the entire country to play its part in helping the environment by building on the leadership many states and companies have already exhibited. The urgency of climate change was reinforced throughout the speech. “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society,” Obama said as he encouraged both Democrats and Republicans to work collectively and take initiative. Results will not happen overnight, but “Americans are not a people who fear what the future holds; we shape it.”
While Obama’s plan isn’t perfect, Earth Day Network commends the president on his great step forward, and is optimistic about the impacts these regulations will have on the country and planet. We are hopeful that other organizations, companies, and individuals will support President Obama’s plan to tackle climate change.