Thursday, November 15, 2012

Obama vows to take personal charge of climate change in second term

Barack Obama today claimed climate change as a personal mission of his second term, speaking in the first White House press conference since his re-election. He acknowledged his first term had made only limited progress on climate change, but he promised to remain personally engaged in getting Republicans and Democrats to agree on a course of action.

"So what I am going to be doing over the next several weeks, the next several months, is having a conversation – a wide-ranging conversation – with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find out what more we can do to make short term progress," he said. "You can expect that you will hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and help moves this agenda forward."

The comments were Obama's most expansive in years on the dangers of climate change and his strategy for addressing the problem. It was also the first time Obama said he would take personal charge of climate change.

The approach offers a marked difference from Obama's largely hands-off policy during his first term, when he left Democrats in Congress in charge of crafting a climate change bill. That effort ultimately collapsed in the Senate. It was seen by some environmental campaigners as further evidence of how superstorm Sandy put climate change back on the political agenda.

Obama, like his challenger Mitt Romney, rarely mentioned climate change on the campaign trail, and the White House, early in his first term, decided to focus its messaging on green jobs and clean energy instead of global warming. But his remarks on Wednesday suggest Obama now intends to stake his own reputation on the search for climate solutions – claiming a leadership role that many have urged.

Source: The Guardian

Photo courtesy of Tom Lohdan via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)