Obama to tackle climate change in speech
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama will announce his plans to “reduce carbon pollution” in a climate change speech next week, the White House announced Saturday.
“There’s no single step that can reverse the effects of climate change. But when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can,” Obama said in a video released on the White House’s YouTube page.
In his inauguration address in January, Obama committed to taking action on climate change. But six months into his second term, the president has yet to make any big steps on the issue.
While the Obama administration has already moved to limit greenhouse gas emissions for new coal power plants, environmentalists hoped that his inauguration speech signaled a commitment to implement the same standards on existing coal power – a huge undertaking.
“Establishing strong pollution standards for new and existing power plants is critical for protecting our families and our planet from runaway climate disruption and is something our coalition has worked mightily to achieve,” the Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, said in a statement.
Environmentalists have been urging the president to work through executive action, rather than try to get policy passed by Congress.
The president did not outline specific policies in the newly-released video, but hinted he would do so in his speech Tuesday at Georgetown University.
“I’ll lay out my vision for where I believe we need to go – a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it,” he said, looking directly into the camera.
The 90-second video features footage of severe weather, glaciers and landscapes across the country.
“This is a serious challenge – but it’s one uniquely suited to America’s strengths,” Obama said.
While the idea of long-term climate change is a controversial notion politically, it’s accepted as fact by most researchers.
Recent polls show about two-thirds of Americans consider climate change a serious problem. According to a Pew Research Center survey in March, 65% of Americans said the issue is either very serious or somewhat serious, while 20% said it’s not a problem.
A separate March poll from Gallup indicated nearly half – 47% – of Americans think the U.S. government is doing too little to protect the environment, while 35% said the government was doing the right amount and 16% said it was doing too much.
CNN’s Ashley Killough, Kevin Bohn and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.