January 29, 2014

President Obama Makes Case for Climate Action in State of the Union

WASHINGTON (January 29, 2014) – In his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama, rightly so, reiterated to lawmakers and the public that climate change “is a fact” and "the debate is over" about its impacts on the Earth.

Below is a statement by Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“President Obama made a forceful case for climate action in his State of the Union speech. He underscored how much climate-related impacts are already costing local communities, workers, and our economy, and how those costs will soar in the years to come if we don't take concerted action. Mayors, governors, and other local leaders are on the front lines of the real-world fight to avert the worst impacts of climate change, and it was good to hear the president acknowledge the need for the federal government to help them in that fight.

“Congress is AWOL on this issue. Too many members reject the science and many more buy the economic scare stories the fossil fuel industry is selling. As the president pointed out, the clean energy technologies we need to move rapidly towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy are readily available and increasingly competitive with coal, oil and natural gas. The president is right to do exactly what he said he was going to do, by implementing the Climate Action Plan he laid out at Georgetown University last June.

“The president's call for additional incentives for more efficient trucks, advanced vehicles, and cellulosic biofuels are welcome, and deserve bipartisan support from Congress. But the president was a little too bullish on natural gas. While substituting natural gas for coal in electricity production can make a contribution to reducing carbon pollution in the near-term, ultimately, we need to virtually eliminate carbon pollution from all sources -- including natural gas -- if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. An overreliance on natural gas over the long-term will not achieve the emissions reductions needed to address global warming, and threatens to crowd out the investments we need to build a low-carbon electricity future based on renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency.

“Finally, it was good to hear the president acknowledge the need for U.S. leadership on the climate issue and to lay out the opportunities for real progress over the next two years working with China, India and other key countries. It will take global collaboration on an unprecedented level for humanity to come to grips with the climate crisis, and the United States is an essential player in this process. President Obama clearly gets it that to be a global leader on the climate stage, other countries need to see we're doing our part here at home. With his recommitment to action, the president has bolstered our credibility and leverage on the international stage."

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.