climate action

Obama: Let’s set our sights higher than on a single oil pipeline

In his State of the Union speech, Obama again highlighted the case for climate action. Photo credit: 

By Anders Lorenzen

US President Obama has, in his annual State of the Union (SOTU) speech, said that climate change is the most critical threat humanity faces, but also that America must become energy independent, and they are closer to that goal now than they have been in the last years.

Though during his speech there was mention of fossil fuels, climate change and clean energy,  we had to wait 43 minutes and thirty seconds before his first significant mention of climate change occurred, when he stated:

‘’No challenge presents a greater challenge to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet`s warmest year on record. One year doesn’t make a trend, but this does.  Fourteen of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. Now I have heard some folks trying to dodge the evidence by saying that they are not scientists, and that we don’t have enough information. Well, I’m not a scientist either, but you know, a lot of really good scientists at NASA, at NOAA and all the major universities, our best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and that if we don’t act forcefully now we can expect rising oceans and longer, hotter heatwaves.’’

‘’The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security, we should act like it.’’

Following long applause, predominantly from Democrats supporting action on climate change, the President continued:

That’s why, over the past six years, we have done more than ever to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy to the way we use it.

Responding to Republican threats to fight his climate efforts, Obama stated:

‘’I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure that American leadership drives international action.’’

Obama highlighted the historic climate deal between the US and China, in which China, for the first time ever has committed to a time frame for limiting their emissions. Obama said that because of this deal between the world`s two largest economies, other countries are now stepping up.

And so, it was his belief that a global climate deal could be signed this year in Paris:

‘’Offering hope that this year the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the only planet we`ve got.’’

But it was much earlier in the speech (9:22) that Obama highlighted the increased growth of the green economy. He included it alongside growth in fossil fuels, in his overall energy strategy, saying that America is moving closer to energy independence:

‘’We believe we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and protect our planet. And today America is number one in oil and gas; America is number one in wind power; every three weeks we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. ‘’

Obama was ambivalent with regard to his position on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is, simply stating (27:01):

‘’So let’s set our sights higher than on a single oil pipeline’’

While he did not mention the infamous project, there can be no doubt that he was in fact referring to Keystone XL.

Environmentalists will be heartened by his strong stance on climate action and building strong international coalitions, but will be worried about his ongoing promotion of the oil and gas industry, and will be left puzzled about what his stance on Keystone XL is.

People and businesses involved in the green economy can only be optimistic for the outlook on cleaner energy technology, and encouraged that it is now being promoted on the same level as fossil fuels.

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