The President of the United States, Barack Obama, made his State of the Union address last Tuesday (January 12, 2016). He addressed many important issues, but my focus is on how the current leader of the United States proposes to address climate change. The good news is that President Obama talks about taking steps to transition away from the burning of fossil fuels. Whether or not those steps will be sufficient, is, at this stage, less important than whether those who support action will prevail after the elections later this year. Here is an excerpt from his speech where he addresses climate change:
Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You will be pretty lonely because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.
But even if — even if the planet wasn’t at stake, even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record until 2015 turned out even hotter — why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?
Listen, seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average.
We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy — something, by the way, that environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. And meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly 60 percent and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.
Gas under $2 a gallon ain’t bad either.
Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future, especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. We do them no favor when we don’t show them where the trends are going. And that’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. And that way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system. (APPLAUSE)
Now, none of this is going to happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, the planet we’ll preserve, that is the kind of future our kids and our grandkids deserve. And it’s within our grasp.
Now, climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world, and that’s why the third big question that we have to answer together is how to keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation- build everywhere there’s a problem.