Obama speaks out against Global Warming

(@ 1:30 – promoted by NLinStPaul)

In his second substantive, issue-focused discussion since the election, President-elect Barack Obama spoke to the bipartisan governors’ meeting on climate change, with an extensive international audience. I recommend reading the speech (after the fold) and watching the video, but there are some key points worth calling out and perhaps just one important issue to raise.

This is a clear statement that Barack Obama’s discussion of energy and global warming issues during the campaign will translate directly into the White House and is core to the Administration.

I promise you this: When I am President, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington.

Obama makes a strong point about science and the view of it from the Oval Office come January 20th: “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear.”   In the new ‘bipartisan’ era, can we hope that denialists need not apply?

More on Obama and clean energy below…

Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.

From reports from people in the room, this last-minute addition of a video greeting had a powerful impact, with a standing ovation in the room at its conclusion.  Under President Obama, the United States will be a leader on climate change, and not a leader due to mounting CO2 emissions.

President Elect Barack Obama to Deliver Taped Greeting to Bi-Partisan Governors Climate Summit

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama will deliver a surprise message by video to the Bi-Partisan Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, California this morning.  Obama will discuss his commitment to marking a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.

The hosts of the Summit include Governors of states who have been at the forefront of the climate debate: Governors Rod Blagojevich (IL), Charlie Crist (FL), Jim Doyle (WI),  Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA) and Kathleen Sebelius (KS) as well as representatives of approximately 22 other states; government officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, the UK and others.

Obama didn’t “discuss his commitment,” he clearly and directly stated it, as you will see.  

Let me begin by thanking the bipartisan group of U.S. governors who convened this meeting.

Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change.

This is a strong statement … emphasizing “urgent”, placing it at the top of the in-box both in urgency and importance.

The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear

This has such meaning, such import, that the President-Elect believes this and states it so clearly.  The Oval Office is in for real change.

Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.

Good that he pointed to multiple effects.

Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.                  

And, climate change is linked to oil dependency, and this is economic security and national security at stake with climate change.

I know many of you are working to confront this challenge. In particular, I want to commend Governor Sebelius, Governor Doyle, Governor Crist, Governor Blagojevich and your host, Governor Schwarzenegger -all of you have shown true leadership in the fight to combat global warming. And we’ve also seen a number of businesses doing their part by investing in clean energy technologies.

People have been acting: in localities, states, businesses.  But …

But too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.

Yes, elections have consequences. The White House’s dogged commitment to inaction on Global Warming during the Bush-Cheney regime will be swept into history come January.

That will start with a federal cap and trade system.

Wow. Did Barack Obama just commit himself to passage of cap and trade legislation? This is not a minor item and will take serious Congressional action, especially to deliver something that meets basic principles.

We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80% by 2050.  

Okay, we’re at a heartburn issue, something of import.   Sounds great, 1990 levels by 2020, no?  Perhaps at first glance, but this falls short of what the International Panel on Climate Change, which is a conservative estimate of what is required, calls for.  In fact, this target is weaker than the stated targets in the horribly inadequate Lieberman-Warner bill (which had 5% below 1990 levels in 2020).  According to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report: “To keep temperatures from rising above 3.5 degrees, the panel said, industrialized countries would need to reduce emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.”  The recent call on Obama from the environmental organizations on energy and climate calls for cutting US emissions 35 percent from current levels, or just on the bottom end of that 25-40 percent range.  

Now, one reason to respect Barack Obama because it is clear that he is a learning man. The Barack Obama of two years ago is not the same Barack Obama on energy and global warming issues.  President-Elect Barack Obama has a strong commitment to science and one can believe the targets could move if/when he is convinced of what is required to avoid catastrophic climate change. And, from another angle, once we start working seriously on energy efficiency, clean energy, and other GHG reduction efforts, it seems quite possible (if not probable) that our efforts could blow through any targets by accelerating and cascading success.

Further, we will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future. We will invest in solar power, wind power, and next generation biofuels. We will tap nuclear power, while making sure it’s safe. And we will develop clean coal technologies.

Okay, investments. YEAH!  Solar, wind, next-gen biofuels, “safe nuclear power” all have roles in tackling climate change.  “Develop clean-coal technologies”.  Sigh.  Perhaps Barack Obama should watch NBC and listen to Brian Williams “While you might have heard the phrase ‘clean coal’ during the presidential campaign, it’s actually an oxymoron. Wishful thinking.”  Thinking about George the W and Iraq, Mr President-Elect, we’ve had enough wishful thinking. Its time to take a critical eye to “clean coal” and stop promoting it as a solution when it remains an uncertain and high-risk research and development project.

This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.

What can we say other than: YEAH!  Let’s get to it, ASAP!

But the truth is, the United States cannot meet this challenge alone. Solving this problem will require all of us working together. I understand that your meeting is being attended by government officials from over a dozen countries, including the UK, Canada and Mexico, Brazil and Chile, Poland and Australia, India and Indonesia. And I look forward to working with all nations to meet this challenge in the coming years.

The Obama Administration will work with the international community to turn the tide on Global Warming’s rising seas.

Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather at Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet. While I won’t be President at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one President at a time, I’ve asked Members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there.  

Obama is clear that he won’t undercut President Bush. But, this is a clear statement that those in at the discussions next month can look to Congressional attendees as people President Obama will listen to on these issues.

And once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.

Eight years of inaction are over. Eight years of acting with arrogant disregard to global concerns are over.  Eight years lost … are soon behind us, soon behind the U.S. and the globe.

Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.

What can one say other than: YES! YES! YES!

Stopping climate change won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But I promise you this: When I am President, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America. Thank you.

No, thank you, Mr. President-Elect.


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    • A Siegel on November 19, 2008 at 13:06

    Overshadowed, perhaps, by our collective joy and appreciation for how much the Democratic Senate caucus cares about the concerns and thoughts of the Party’s base and activists in the removal of Joe Lieberman from all seniority based positions.  [Sigh, one can dream for a moment, no?]

    Well, to a certain extent, Obama’s surprise speech (video) rates with that level of dreaming.

    It is a very strong and direct statement repudiating the Bush-Cheney regime re global warming and international engagement on these issues.

    It is a rejection of denialists. It is a strong statement in support of science. It is … It is not perfect, but is pretty damn great.

    This is the second issue on which the President-elect has directly engaged since the election, and he did so forcefully.

    While I have a few concerns (as per the diary), this is really an important moment and signals a real turning point, a signal that can make one that Change truly is a’comin.  

    Along with going to hear Van Jones earlier in the day and my kids having great report cards, this speech (that the President-Elect chose to give it and its contents) allowed me to go to sleep with some Hope.

  1. don’t work — the governments just print loads and loads of carbon credits, the “offsets” don’t really offset and make things worse for the common folk of the nations in which they are employed, and the statistics reveal their failure in numbers.

    We will have to pressure Obama to do better.

  2. Just today in the Washington Post was this story, China’s Environmental Retreat.

    With the global economy at the edge of recession, China appears to be turning away from previous pledges to improve its record on environmental protection. In this, China is hardly alone: A climate-change proposal in Europe that a few months ago seemed like a sure thing has now divided the continent because of its anticipated expense, and worldwide, money for the development of renewable energy sources has been drying up.

    But the impact of China’s pullback from environmental protection efforts could be the most far-reaching. Home to some of the planet’s most polluted cities, China last year hit a dubious milestone: It surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Its factories release so much toxic waste that they have created black clouds thousands of miles away. Its waterways are no better off — poisoned with industrial runoff ranging from arsenic to acid.

    Obama must change the U.S. into a leader in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions and it looks like if we use the excuse of what China is or isn’t doing, then nothing will get done. We have to decouple U.S. climate leadership from the actions of China and other nations. I think only if we truly are doing something effective will the U.S. be able to pressure other nations to join in the fight.

  3. Hi guys and gals, finally came in from the Kos to a smaller neighborhood, in the hopes my voice might occasionally be heard over the din….

    I posted this diary over there a few days ago.


    I was unfortunately in the wrong place to hear one of Inhoffe’s screeds about global warming being the “greatest fraud ever foisted on mankind”.

    And through the ether I could hear the RW radio hacks slamming everyone (somehow they were convinced everyone was black, but that’s another diary) who did not get out of New Orleans, Alabama and Mississippi because they were too stupid or too poor or, too bad it’s not a national problem.

    And it got me thinking: the National Weather Service, NOAA, NASA, and the National Hurricane Center all share much of the same data. In many cases it’s exactly the same data. So we need to start crashing this fact into the side of the skulls of these Global Warming Denial clowns like it’s a sixteen-pound sledge:

    Anyone who thinks Global Warming is a hoax should relax  and continue to do whatever they were doing whenever a weather related emergency evacuation comes over the air. If they don’t trust James Hansen and Al Gore to tell them that mankinds’ activities are changing our climate, then they should not trust anyone who uses the same sensors and observation posts to warn them that a big, bad, hurricane, flood, or tornado is coming either.

    I thought we could start licensing emergency weather radios like we do guns; if you have a Republican voter registration card, you are not eligible to buy a NWS equipped emergency weather radio. The automatic dialers that warn of civil disasters should be filtered out to no longer warn all registered Republicans, except for non-weather related emergencies.

    Because I’m tired of people picking and choosing their science.

    I’m looking forward to the day when global warming is irrefutable in the same way that the Earth is Round, and then these Global Warming Deniers can get the same treatment that the Flat Earther’s of their day received.

    Actually, I’m not looking forward to that day, because then it will be too late for all of us to fix the problem. So can I get some help clubbing these idiots over the head with their duplicity?  

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