As he speaks at Alaskan Arctic conference, environmentalists attack Obama for climate hypocrisy
|Photo credit: The White House.
By Anders Lorenzen
As Obama speaks at the Alaskan hosted Arctic conference, GLACIER, environmentalists attack the US president for taking a hypocritical stance on tackling climate change.
In addition to speaking at the conference, Obama’s objective in visiting Alaska was a high profile tour highlighting the rapidly changing climate in Alaska. Obama said that the people of Alaska are at the forefront of climate change and what happens there affects us all.
But many environmentalists were not impressed, and have accused the president of hypocrisy on climate change. As his administration has just given Shell the final permits for Arctic drilling, environmentalists say that action on climate change is not compatible with Arctic drilling. In fact the Obama Administration has opened up more sites for oil drilling than any other US president has previously.
But Obama, well aware of that criticism, tried to justify it in his weekly address released on Saturday. The president said: ‘As we accelerate the transition towards cleaner energy, our economy will continue to rely on oil and gas for some time, and as long as that is the case I believe we should rely on domestic production rather than foreign imports. I know there are Americans worried about drilling for oil in environmentally sensible waters, some are also concerned about my administration’s decision to approve Shell’s decision to drill off the Alaskan coast, using leases they purchased before I took office. I share people’s concern’. But Obama moved to guarantee that these operations would be done under highest safeguarding standards; ‘the requirements that Shell has to meet are specifically tailored to drilling off the coast of Alaska.
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On Monday, Obama addressed the conference, stating that human disruptance of the climate is happening faster than previously thought. He also said that the warming happens at a much faster rate in the Arctic than anywhere else on the planet. In Alaska alone, temperatures have risen by twice as much as in the rest of the US, with last year being Alaska’s warmest year on record. Obama then highlighted the cost to the economy that a warming climate brings, and warned that if no action is taking the cost would accelerate at alarming levels. Climate change is also hitting Alaska’s indigenous groups and their ability to live off the land.
This is the latest move in Obama’s climate strategy, as climate change has become the cornerstone in his second term in office and as he continues to push for an ambitious global climate deal at COP21 in Paris at the end of this year. But some green advocates believe Obama has scored an own climate goal by allowing Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic.
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