By Holly Royce
Early this morning Australian time, a worldwide audience collectively held its breath, in anticipation of a speech – containing a climate change action plan – from the world’s most powerful person, the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
In what is being called “the most significant development in US climate change action so far”, the President’s climate address shone as a beacon of hope through a mire of inaction and terrifying predictions surrounding dangerous climate change.
If you didn’t/don’t have time to read or watch the entire speech, worry not! We have put together a handy set of highlights to keep you up-to-date.
Obama did not shy away from the facts, stating it is time to wake up and acknowledge that climate change is happening:
“The 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years. Last year, temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record – faster than most models had predicted it would. These are facts.”
“Ninety-seven percent of scientists, including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest. They’ve acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.”
Nor did he shy away from the motivation behind his push for action, citing it is time to act for “ You, your children and your children’s children.” He means that future generations matter, but so do today’s generations.
Obama is ready and taking action. First in line is cutting pollution, preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change and forging a path forward as a leader encouraging international efforts to combat global climate change, including through the United Nations.
“My administration will redouble our efforts to engage our international partners in reaching a new global agreement to reduce carbon pollution through concrete action”
“Today, I’m calling for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas — unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity. And I urge other countries to join this effort.”
The Obama Administration has already started imposing controls on new power plants, which have previously had no regulation on their carbon emissions, and has announced further controls to be extended with regulations to be finalised by 2014.
The action plan also involves the production of more fuel-efficient vehicles, appliances and manufacturing and installing smarter lights and windows and sensors and appliances into US homes and businesses, which are responsible for one-third of their greenhouse gases.
From here the Obama Administration will also encourage private capital to get off the sidelines and get into these energy-saving investments.
The President explains: “So I know these standards don’t sound all that sexy, but think of it this way: That’s the equivalent of planting 7.6 billion trees and letting them grow for 10 years — all while doing the dishes. It is a great deal and we need to be doing it.”
It is an amazing step forward which, of course, has caused a stir on the Republican side of politics in the US, with assertions that such investments and progress on climate action will lead to loss of jobs and the downfall of the US economy.
The Obama Administration, however, has this response: “Today, we use more clean energy — more renewables and natural gas — which is supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs. We waste less energy, which saves you money at the pump and in your pocketbooks. And guess what — our economy is 60 percent bigger than it was 20 years ago, while our carbon emissions are roughly back to where they were 20 years ago.”
It may be wishful thinking, but President Obama wants to move beyond climate change being a political football.
“But more broadly, we’ve got to move beyond partisan politics on this issue. I want to be clear — I am willing to work with anybody — Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians, greens — anybody — to combat this threat on behalf of our kids. What we need is an agreement that’s ambitious – because that’s what the scale of the challenge demands.”
One day, we at 1 Million Women believe, politicians across the spectrum in Australia will see the climate challenge this way as well, accepting the facts and uniting for decisive action.
Read a full transcript of Obama’s speech here.
For information on how to take action on dangerous climate change check out our website: