An Inaugural Shout Out on Climate Change

After an election season in which climate change was barely mentioned, President Barack Obama gave a hearty shout out to climate change in his Inaugural address Monday. From the speech:

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. 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 America 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 is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped 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.”

The focus on climate change seems to signal that in his second term, Obama and his team are determined to actually focus on it as a policy priority. Now everyone wants to know: since it’s widely assumed that Energy Secretary Steven Chu is departing, who is going to lead the Department of Energy and the rest of the energy/environment team? Is the idea of a carbon tax moving forward behind the scenes? Where does Obama stand on the Keystone XL pipeline?

My inbox was filled with statements from clean energy and environmental groups shortly after the speech. One example:

“The president deserves praise for giving the climate crisis such prominence in his inaugural address today,” said Carol M. Browner, former administrator of the EPA and a fellow at the Center for American Progress. “He is sending a clear signal that we can expect strong leadership from him in his second term on climate change and clean energy.”

Looking forward to more details: Obama will give his annual State of the Union Address Feb. 12.


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