While President Obama has emerged as a strong leader on climate change, serious questions have been raised about his government's rush to ship coal overseas.
obama climate change
In his first press conference after being re-elected, President Obama told reporters that climate change could take a backseat to efforts to boost the economy in the near term.
It sure didn't take the President long to water down the passionate commitment he made to the electorate just a week ago when he stated in his acceptance speech that:
“We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
Last time around, when there was a climate bill making its way through the House of Representatives we were told that the bill would be put on hold until Obama's health care reform was taken care of.
We all know what happened. No climate bill.
In his acceptance speech last Tuesday, President Obama stated that: “We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
The President's words will be put to the test very shortly.
As Glenn Hurowitz points out on Grist, a bill is about to land on the President's desk that will allow US airlines to ignore a European Union climate law.
“If he signs the bill, Obama will not only be failing to take sufficient action to address climate change, but actively going out of his way to stop another country from doing so – a pretty extreme act at the worst possible time.”
This is a line in the sand and a really big deal. We will soon know if President Obama plans to stay true to his word on his commitment to curb the emissions of climate change pollution by industry in the United States.
Hurowitz's piece is well worth the read, as it goes into a lot of detail on the issue of transnational aviation and climate change policy.
If we act now to implement President Barack Obama’s energy plan – which proposes investment in clean energy (and some badly needed jobs to boot) – we can avert a future in which the nation’s energy costs rise by $420 billion a year over the next five years.
That translates to $3,500 for every American family.
Obama’s plan, which aims to hold energy companies’ feet to the fire over global warming gases like carbon dioxide, is now being challenged by these same companies, who charge that the plan’s associated “energy taxes” (estimated to exceed $400 billion), will reduce investment in domestic oil and gas at a time when America is just beginning to develop these resources to free itself from dependence on foreign oil.
Oil company propaganda suggests that these energy taxes will mean not only less energy to heat homes, transport food, run factories and light schools, but will actually reduce local, state and federal revenues at a time when cities across America are struggling with deficits.
The Republicans, who have been supporting the oil barons since Reagan, cite a cost to every household of $3,128 if Obama’s plan prevails. The figures are close; it’s the slant that’s demented.
They call their plan the “Road to Recovery”. I call it BS.
In an interview with reporters last week, President Barack Obama correctly raised the point that global warming could lead to more severe flooding events in the future. Although it’s impossible to link a specific event to global climate change – as Obama was careful not to do – the record-breaking flooding of the Red River in Fargo, North Dakota is consistent with the trend towards increased frequency and severity of extreme precipitation events predicted by the climate science community.
“I actually think the science around climate change is real. It is potentially devastating,” Obama told the reporters. “If you look at the flooding that’s going on right now in North Dakota and you say to yourself, ‘If you see an increase of two degrees, what does that do, in terms of the situation there?’ That indicates the degree to which we have to take this seriously.“
But not a single reporter – in the meeting or otherwise – made that critical point in all the Fargo flood coverage over the past week.
Joe Romm writes on Climate Progress that “you’ll have to look very hard to find a single story in the mainstream media that even mentions climate change (other than the few quoting our President) — even though the record “once-in-a-hundred-year flooding” the Midwest now seems to be getting every few years or so is precisely what scientists have been expecting from the warming.”
Jim Prentice, Canada’s Environment Minister, lands in the US capital today as part of the Conservative government’s attempt to ride on Obama’s green coattails on climate change.
But he won’t get too far with the George W. Bush playbook on climate change he’ll be trying to sell the Obama administration.
The problem for Canada and the Harper government is that President Obama is actually planning to do something significant about the issue of climate change, while Canada’s Conservatives continue to spend their time trying to spin a plan that will see their country’s emissions continue to rise.
The Globe and Mail rightly points out this morning that during Obama’s visit to Canada two weeks ago:
“The President gave no indication during his trip to Canada that he was enthusiastic about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s idea for a bilateral agreement on climate change.”
No kidding. Obama and his team see right through Canada’s weak, ineffectual plan. After all it’s pretty much the plan set out by former President George W. Bush.
This just might be the soundest strategy for US President Obama to employ when dealing with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the issue of climate change and greenhouse gas reduction.
This full page ad by the grassroots group Avaaz appeared on page A3 of the Washington Post today in advance of Obama’s trip to Canada scheduled for tomorrow. (click to enlarge)
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Stephen Harper could be in for rude awakening. For years, he has been dealing with likeminded climate change deniers in the Bush Administration who were only too happy to buy as much oil from the filthy Alberta tar sands as they could get their hands on.
The times they are a changing.
In the last week, key appointments in Obama’s cabinet have all made a point of detailing the perils of climate change.
At his confirmation hearing today, Dr. Steven Chu, the Nobel laureate physicist and incoming head of the Energy Department, warned of the dire consequences of unchecked global warming. In her confirmation hearing, Senator Hillary Clinton said that climate change is an “unambiguous security threat” and pledged an energy policy to reduce our carbon emissions.
Obama himself has detailed a cap and trade carbon system for the US that will rely on absolute rather than so-called “intensity” targets championed by Harper’s friends in the Alberta oil patch.
If the “skeptical” Dane Bjorn Lomborg had any standing with the White House it will quickly evaporate with the incoming Obama administration.
President-elect Barack Obama has chosen John P. Holdren as his science advisor - a man who was one of the most vocal critics of Lomborg’s famously inaccurate book The Skeptical Environmentalist”.
“The Skeptical Environmentalist” was so offensive to the scientific community that Scientific American published a ten-page evisceration authoured by four actual researchers, including Holdren.