President Obama on Outlook for Climate Change Action

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Publication date: 
15 November 2012

“I  am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human  behavior and carbon emissions.  And as a  consequence, I think we've got an obligation to future generations to do  something about it.” – President Obama

During  his press conference yesterday, President Obama responded to a question about  what his administration will do in the next four years regarding climate  change.  After citing regulatory changes  and S&T investments made by his administration, the President acknowledged “we  haven’t done as much as we need to,” adding “some tough political choices” will  have to be made to “take on climate changee in a serious way.”

The  complete transcript of this exchange follows:

New  York Times Correspondent Mark Landler:

“Thank  you, Mr. President. 

“In  his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated  by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change  than your opponent.  Tomorrow you’re  going up to New York City where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are  still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is  further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. 

“What  specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate  change?  And do you think the political  will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a  tax on carbon?"

President  Obama:

“As  you know, Mark, we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate  change.  What we do know is the  temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10  years ago.  We do know that the Arctic  ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago.  We do know that there have been  extraordinarily -- there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe  weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

“And  I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human  behavior and carbon emissions.  And as a  consequence, I think we've got an obligation to future generations to do  something about it.

“Now,  in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks.  That will have an impact.  That will take a lot of carbon out of the  atmosphere.  We doubled the production of  clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for  power generation.  And we continue to  invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon  from our atmosphere.  But we haven't done  as much as we need to.

“So  what I'm going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is  having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers,  and elected officials to find out what can - what more can we do to make a  short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education  process that I think is necessary - a discussion, a conversation across the  country about what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is  not something we're passing on to future generations that's going to be very  expensive and very painful to deal with.

“I  don't know what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this  point, because this is one of those issues that's not just a partisan issue; I  also think there are regional differences.   There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way  would involve making some tough political choices.  And understandably, I think the American  people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our  economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we're going to  ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don't think anybody  is going to go for that.  I won't go for  that.

“If,  on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance  growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international  leader, I think that's something that the American people would support.

“So  you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years  about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move  this agenda forward.”

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