February 12, 2013

President Says Nation Should Heed Science, Act on Climate Change

Statement by Alden Meyer

WASHINGTON (February 12, 2013) – Tonight, President Obama delivered the State of the Union address, which included comments on climate and energy. Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), is available for comment on the president’s remarks. Please contact Sarah Goldberg at 202-331-6943 to arrange interviews with Meyer.

Below is a statement by Meyer:

“President Obama did a powerful job connecting the need for action on climate change with the challenge of revitalizing our economy. The costs of unconstrained climate change are severe, and would create an increasing drag on the economy. On the other hand, investing in clean energy technologies and climate-resilient infrastructure can protect public health and the environment while generating millions of jobs. 

“We welcome President Obama's call for Congress to act on climate change, and his firm statement that ‘if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.’

“Confronting the threat of climate change will require significant action by Congress -- in particular, by putting a price on carbon pollution.  While that is not likely this year or next, it is clearly within the realm of possibility before the end of the president's second term. The politics on this issue are shifting rapidly as members of Congress see the increasing toll climate change is taking on their states and districts.

“The good news is that there is much the Obama administration can do to address this problem using existing authority, especially by setting standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. As analysis by UCS and others has shown, there are a large number of old, dirty coal-fired units that can be retired and replaced with a combination of efficiency and clean renewable resources.

“On its own, the administration can also continue to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. The two rounds of vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards recently finalized by the administration nearly double the fuel economy of new cars and light trucks by 2025 and will reduce global warming pollution by as much as 570 million metric tons in 2030. But oil will remain a huge source of U.S. carbon emissions unless we do more to cut our projected oil use in half in twenty years. We can create jobs, protect our security, and slash pollution by improving fuel economy and cutting emissions for heavy duty vehicles, planes, trains and ships, bringing better biofuels to market, and supporting the production of electric vehicles.

“President Obama spoke eloquently tonight about the reality and costs of human-induced climate change, which has contributed to incredible drought, wildfires, and coastal flooding, along with other extreme weather. A sustained education and outreach campaign by the president and administration officials, on both the climate threat and the available solutions, can help local decision-makers prepare for climate change and galvanize support from the American people. It will also build pressure on Congress to take the bold action needed to prepare for climate change and reduce emissions. For as the president said tonight, ‘for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.’”