Obama Throws Down on Climate

January 21, 2013

This is the headline. This is the only news that counts.

The challenge has been stated in such a way there is no going back.

Get popcorn.


Joe Romm responds at ClimateProgress:

We will soon see if these words have any meaning whatsoever — since approving the Keystone XL pipeline would utterly vitiate them.


Andrew Sullivan:

Then the big surprise: climate change. I didn’t think he’d put such a strong emphasis on it so emphatically, when the carbon energy industry is thriving, and when the economy remains depressed. But I think he realizes, as we all do, that future generations may look back on us entirely through this prism of our collective failure to conserve the very planet we live on through a mass rush for global wealth whose consequences are unknowable and yet whose power continues to pummel the earth we once knew. I have no idea what this would mean – in my dreams, a carbon tax in tax reform? – but it was heartening to see Obama return to it.


27 Responses to “Obama Throws Down on Climate”

  1. Well, that’s a good sign at least.

  2. Skip Pruss Says:

    Big. Podesta is going all out.

  3. joffan7 Says:

    Excellent words; I sincerely hope for rapid, widespread and committed action, which I well know is not completely within the president’s control or gift.

    Watch for the mouth-frothing reaction from the denial industry.

  4. jimbills Says:

    Well, here’s the thing: the U.S. now has less than 4 years to really lay down a comprehensive strategy to address renewable energy if we really want to start working on the matter before 2020 or so. It has to do so meaningfully and in a way that cannot be immediately discarded by successive administrations as Reagan symbolized by tearing the solar panels off the White House roof. Every year is important, but U.S. history is pretty much a carousel of Republican-Democrat-Republican-Democrat. The next President is more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat, and with the Republican rhetoric these days it is almost certain they will not address the matter comprehensively.

    The next two years are vital, as the President has the greatest political capital in the beginning part of an administration. The last four years have been a virtual continuation of the status quo – but in the spirit of the second chance, here is the second chance.

    So, this is the shot. Do it, or don’t do it.

    • mtl4u2 Says:

      Obama MUST hammer again and again the economic opportunities that climate change mitigation would bring to the country.

      Moreover, he must NEVER let the Chamber of Commerce, the denialist industrial complex and other members of the biggest criminal syndicate to monopolize the megaphones again.

      If need be, a rapid response team with all the power of the Executive bully pulpit could go a long way in counteracting the incessant propaganda of the miscreants.

      In all this, the president must also be convinced that millions of people have his back against the reactionaries.

  5. It is a start. As I see it these are some major upcoming hurdles to cross:

    First hurdle: will be the denial of approval of Keystone tar sands pipeline.

    Second hurdle: will be using the EPA and Clean Air Act to enforce emissions reduction of coal fired power stations. There will need to be related programs encouraging transition to renewable energy.

    Third hurdle: being less hardball at International negotiations. Climate finance is still a big issue, and technology transfer to third world and developing countries is needed to allow them to skip carbon intensive energy infrastructure such as coal and gas.

    A Carbon tax or national emissions trading scheme is probably unachievable in tghe short term given the gridlock in Congress.

    Much of the world’s production of goods has moved to Asia and China resulting in increased carbon emissions, while the goods are exported to the USA, Europe and Australia for consumption. Our consumption is a primary cause of the increasing emissions in places like China, and we need to take some responsibility to assisting in reduction of those emissions. Especially when 1200 new coal fired power stations are planned in India and China, according to the World Resources Institute. We need to somewhow avoid these being built.

  6. Alteredstory Says:

    I guess we ignore the betrayal he’s been working on for the last four years.

  7. […] Re-sharing a clip from President Obama’s Inaugural Speech via Peter Sinclair’s blog. […]

  8. Wes Says:

    Talk’s cheap. Show me you mean it. Show your daughters you mean it. They will inherit the results. Joe Romm is right – disallow Keystone and we’ll start to believe.

  9. rayduray Says:

    Here’s the transcript of what Obama had to say today about climate:


    “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.


    Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.


    We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”

    • rayduray Says:

      And if I may advance an opinion, I interpret this brief statement as yet another example of Barack Obama speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Notice that he ends by throwing a bone to the Dominionists, a Christian religious right wing cult that is blatantly unconcerned abour environmental husbandry and climate stability but which has inordinate clout in D.C. politics.

      When he talks about the “path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult” he’s saying something completely different from stating that the solar and wind energy industries absolutely need to sort of stable government policy afforded to oil & gas men and commodity farmers. He didn’t say he’d lead on that issue.

      Obama starts of well stating “(w)e will respond to the threat of climate change” and then instantaneously distracts himself so he does not get around to suggesting any concrete policy initiatives whatsoever.

      When he states that “(t)he path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.” he is simply re-writing history. Until the fossil fuel industry created their hugely successful FUD campaign muddying the discussion America had been in the lead. We abdicated it to the Germans and the Chinese among others. And it was not “Americans” as a body politic who abandoned rational responses to climate change. We started in a serious way back in the 1970s to institute the sort of energy transference to new technologies. The troglodyte Reaganites were the ones who, for one example, removed the solar power units from atop the White House. As good a metaphor as exists for the fossil fuel addiction of our GOP and their followers.

      My net assessment of these words is that they will be forgotten by Wednesday and we’ll be back to business as usual.

      There’s a pipeline that needs a permit. And it’s name is Keystone XL:


      • This would be a good time to do reduce energy spent dwelling on disappointments. The inauguration speech is about where to go, not how to get there.

        The lower keystone executive order was a vote optimization move. Not obvious that Obama had enough leverage to block the Oklahoma -> Texas pipeline.


        • rayduray Says:

          Re: “This would be a good time to do reduce energy spent dwelling on disappointments.”

          One might, and I do, equally argue that this is the time to become intelligent about realpolitik and the nature of the imperial enemy the American public and the Republic faces.


          As far as I’m concerned, the only thing that matters is not that “(t)he inauguration speech is about where to go, not how to get there.” The only thing that matters is Obama’s record. And when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, Obama has already authorized it in part. He’ll wait until some convenient moment (4:30 PM Friday press release on Super Bowl weekend would be good, for instance) when the rest of the line from Canada to Cushing will be quietly authorized by a subdued and mis-headlined press release from some obscure bureau in the State Department. I can almost guarantee it. The pattern is all too obvious by now.

          “If the ends don’t justify the means, what does?” — Robert Moses

        • rayduray Says:

          Jeez Charles,

          You really do need some better sources. Here’s what the lying National Journal had to say in that idiotic article:

          “It is necessary in a political sense, to demonstrate that the administration is doing everything it can to lower high gas prices,” said one Insider. “But even without the administration’s involvement, the southern portion of Keystone will get built and, shockingly, gas prices will remain high.”

          Insiders overwhelmingly agreed that the southern portion of the pipeline won’t do much for oil prices. Asked whether prices will go up or down once this piece of the pipeline is completed, 75 percent of Insiders chose “neither,” a mere 14 percent said prices would go down, and 11 percent said they would go up.

          OK, so 14% got it right. Meaning 86% of the National Journal Insiders are either liars or idiots.

          I don’t have today’s quote but for most of 2011 and 2012 the spot price of a barrel ow WTI-Cushing was averaging $15 below the world market price/bbl as represented by Brent crude.

          Meaning in practical terms that ultimate consumers of petroleum products from Chcago to Denver and Rapid City to Tulsa were getting about a 20 cents discount at the gas pump per gallon compared with what they’d otherwise be paying.

          Tue Cushing–to-Coast portion of the Keystone XL pipeline is designed to eliminate the surplus in Cushing, and the net result can only be to raise fuel prices throughout the Heeartland while the syncrude and dilibit is introduced to world market pricing forces in the Houston Ship Canal on its way to Asia.

          It’s really discouraging to read such articles in the National Journal and realize that some people actually ate credulous enough to consider the National Journal as anything more than elite propaganda and bird cage liner.

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