During the annual State of the Union address, President Obama promised action on climate change by reducing pollution and preparing communities for the consequences of climate change while speeding the transition to more sustainable energy sources. He laid out a plan to cut the energy wasted by our homes and businesses in half over the next twenty years and in addition to laying out the benefits of green jobs also shined a spotlight on some of the dangers of doing nothing.
“The fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15,” said Obama. “Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.”
Four months later and… we’re still waiting.
While many want to blame the President we have to give credit where credit is due. During the first year of his presidency, the U.S. pledged that by 2020 the emissions of greenhouse gasses would be reduced by 17 percent. At the end of 2012 and with seven years remaining on that pledge, emissions had decreased by 12 percent from the 2005 baseline number. So something is working, but what has been done recently?
What changes have taken place since the address in February? Nothing. The more time passes the more unlikely it seems that Congress is going to pass anything on mitigation or adaptation and, after a major climate-change bill failed to pass through the Senate in 2010, the chances that Congress will take up a new climate change bill seem slim at best.
After all, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology was quoted in a Washington Post op-ed as saying, “contrary to the claims of those who want to strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions and increase the cost of energy for all Americans, there is a great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science.”
The White House is looking for ways it can take the executive authority to tackle climate change across the board without action from Congress who may or may not believe climate change is real.
“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change,” Obama said. “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”
Well Mr. President, it would seem as though Congress isn’t going to act any time soon so it appears you’re up.