During last evening’s State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama signaled a renewed commitment to climate change and conservation, saying:
[F]or the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense.
We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.
The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.
Jeff Hayward, director of the Rainforest Alliance’s climate program, responds briefly to Obama’s declaration:
President Obama made significant statements on climate change in the State of the Union address, signaling his renewed energy to fight for the future, framing an agenda (and possible legacy) that won’t duck the responsibility of dealing with the urgency of global warming. He committed to tackling the issue, even if Congress doesn’t and while he has some levers at his disposal (EPA and State Department) for shaping new climate policy, he will need to re-join the debate on climate change legislation with vigor and leadership–if the country is going to deploy an across the board effort to curb our carbon pollution, which could include proposals for cap-and-trade or a carbon tax, and set a price on carbon. Ultimately, this is what is needed to drive innovation, instead of deforestation or emissions and channel private sector investment in low-carbon sustainable production.
Discover the Rainforest Alliance’s work to curb global climate change and influence climate policy.