Today marks a full day of climate negotiations that lead off the UN’s annual meeting in New York. President Obama will make an opening speech, in which he will acknowledge the previous administration’s climate stance by saying that his administration “understand[s] the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations.” This year’s challenge is getting the issue in front of and debated in the US Senate. Without a strong climate commitment from the US, Obama’s efforts will be seriously hamstrung in any international negotiations. He highlights what has been done through investment and tax incentives in the US. “The United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history.”
We’re making our government’s largest ever investment in renewable energy – an investment aimed at doubling the generating capacity from wind and other renewable resources in three years. Across America, entrepreneurs are constructing wind turbines and solar panels and batteries for hybrid cars with the help of loan guarantees and tax credits – projects that are creating new jobs and new industries. We’re investing billions to cut energy waste in our homes, buildings, and appliances – helping American families save money on energy bills in the process. We’ve proposed the very first national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks – a standard that will also save consumers money and our nation oil. We’re moving forward with our nation’s first offshore wind energy projects. We’re investing billions to capture carbon pollution so that we can clean up our coal plants. Just this week, we announced that for the first time ever, we’ll begin tracking how much greenhouse gas pollution is being emitted throughout the country. Later this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge. And already, we know that the recent drop in overall U.S. emissions is due in part to steps that promote greater efficiency and greater use of renewable energy.
If the Senate and the House could come to an agreement on the climate bill, Obama would certainly be in a stronger position to push a stronger climate treaty. But in order to avoid being a disappointing collection of platitudes, calls for action need to include strong, science-based targets on emissions reductions so that we can get back to a sustainable level of CO2 in our atmosphere. Read the full released speech here.