US President Barack Obama, recently elected to a second term in office, made little mention of climate change during the preceding debates. Climate change is coming back into his conversation, as in yesterday’s press conference, but it seems like he’s missing something, regarding action specifically. Of course, economic recovery took precedence, but it’s good to see that someone asked the President about his stance.
“What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change?” was an excellent question in light of Obama’s previous term, during which we saw the release of new laws governing vehicle efficiency standards, which are a big part of curbing greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, Obama has also been considering opening up public lands for fossil fuel production, so really, we’re not sure where he’s going with curbing GHGs.
“Climate change is real… it is impacted by human behavior. We’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it. We continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere, but we haven’t done as much as we need to,” was a great response by President Obama, but then he muddled it up with the rest of the country’s issues.
Addressing the need to create jobs and focus on economic growth, which is important to get the country moving again, Obama’s statements seemed to become contradictory. Are addressing climate change and the economy mutually exclusive goals? “I think the American people… will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth… if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change… I won’t go for that.” [italics mine]
I’m not sure if this is what Obama is thinking, but I hope he comes to the realization that addressing climate change and the economy can be done jointly. It might cost a little more up front to avoid the more destructive, and more expensive, future that Americans and the rest of the world will face if climate change goes unchecked.