Will Obama mention climate change in the last TV debate?

A question environmentalists and environmental campaigners have been asking themselves is – would Obama mention climate change in any of the three US Election live TV debates?

It did not happen in the first TV debate, nor in the second which took place this Tuesday. The closest he came was when he endorsed clean energy, saying ‘’We have to control our own energy. Not only oil and gas which we have been investing in, but we have to make sure we build the energy of the future. That’s why we’re investing in wind, solar, biofuel and energy efficiency.“

But he also showcased his somewhat contradictory ‘all of the above’ energy policy stance, proudly stating that he has in fact approved more oil drilling than was approved under the Bush administration, and reiterating how important it is for the US to become energy independent, pretty much at any cost. As he put it, ‘’We’re drilling for more oil and gas than we have done for decades, coal production and employment is going up. But we can’t just rely on traditional forms of energy, as I have also said we have to build the energy of the future. That’s why I have doubled fuel efficiency in cars, which means that your car will go twice as far on the gallon. That’s why we have doubled clean energy like wind, solar and biofuels. All these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years. Yes we are drilling for more oil and gas, but we can do that in an environmentally sound way. But we have got to have efficient energy because that’s how we reduce demand.”

Additionally, he could not resist taking a swipe at Romney’s energy plans, saying ‘’We can’t let the energy companies write our energy policies. He (Romney) gets the oil and gas part but not the clean energy part’’.

Environmentalists and green businesses will undoubtedly be pleased that Obama is endorsing clean energy, but are likely to be deeply concerned that he sees the continued extraction of fossil fuels as viable and his sentiment that this can be done in an environmentally sound way. Environmental campaigners who have campaigned against Shell drilling in the Arctic for example, (with drilling licenses granted by the Obama administration) would find it hard to agree that there are any environmentally sound drilling methods in the Arctic at all.

Climate Silence, an organization that is pushing to end the silence around climate issues in political debates (and created a petition to get climate change discussed in the first TV debate), have pointed out that both the presidential candidates in 2008 (Obama and McCain), openly discussed action on climate change at the time, but that in 2012 things appear the be moving in the opposite direction, despite a recent poll showing that more Americans are worried by the impact of climate change.

So we’re all left guessing whether Obama is warming up to introduce the topic of climate change in the last TV debate on the 22nd of October, or whether is he too fearful that it would not go down well with voters more concerned about the job and economic crisis, and is not willing to take that risk.

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4 responses to “Will Obama mention climate change in the last TV debate?

  1. I think its unlikely he'll mention it. However, I'm actually quite impressed with how much he has already endorsed clean energy. If he were to pull the plug completely on fossil fules (which is the dream!) I think he'd been seen as a radical and become alienated in the eyes of some voters. I reckon its a question of 'greater good'. At least he has a green energy policy, and obvious interest, unlike Mitt Romney, who I'm pretty sure would do anything for a few more millions…

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  2. Totally agree with Charlotte. Bearing in mind how much it was highlighted in the election debates four years ago, one can only assume his advisors have market research polled the issue to death and decided its too risky to bring it up. It would be a gift to the DRILL BABY DRILL Republicans.

    The real danger for me lies in disillusioned green minded Democrats drifting left to the US green party, taking essential votes with them.

    Its a fine line he's treading. Sincerely hope his advisors know what they are doing. The world simply could not handle a Romney presidency – I personally will be on the first space tourist trip to Mars with a one way ticket!

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  3. I agree with both of the above – which doesn't make for a very interesting debate, does it?! What it does really make me think about is how tied many voters hands might be. If I was in the US, as a 'green' I'd like to vote green – especially as a protest vote in an election that has shown the tiniest level of concern about climate change. But at the moment, there is no way I would do anything other than vote for Obama – and would feel my hand was forced into tactical voting. A clear sign that, just like this country, the voting system needs to be changed… For the sake of the rest of the world I hope that environmentalists won't turn away from Obama, but I hope that if they don't, and if he is reelected, he starts working on some of those election promises he made back in 2008. And starts mentioning climate change instead of shying away from it.

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  4. There is for sure a problem with the US election system. I just think that Obama have been ill advised. It seems like he is dying to mention climate change but he just can't do it which is such a shame because I do think this is the time to strike more and more Americans believe in climate change mainly because the increase of extreme weather but none of their mainstream politicians are mentioning it. And in the wake of this you have US Green Pary candiate Jill Stein coming out and labelling Obama as a climate sceptic which is not helping at all.

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