In his Second Inaugural Address, President Obama says "We will respond to the threat of climate change"

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In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama said today (21 January 2013) at the Capitol in Washington, DC:

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."

Lou Leonard, head of WWF’s climate change program, issued the following statement in response to the President's remarks:

“It’s heartening to hear President Obama make climate change a key point in his inaugural address--we need his leadership on this issue now more than ever. The next four years are among the most important in human history. The world’s scientists tell us that the window for limiting climate disruption to manageable levels is closing and the decisions we make this decade will shape our future.

"We’ve seen a glimpse of this future in 2012. Communities all over America are facing increasing unprecedented extreme weather, record-busting temperatures and mounting economic and human costs from our failure to act. The President appears to see that his legacy will be shaped by how he responds to this greatest challenge. And history won’t accept Congressional intransigence as a reason not to act.

“Today’s address is an important first step for using the power of the Presidency to spur a practical national conversation on climate change. The importance of the President regularly raising his voice on this issue cannot be overstated. But a sustained national conversation isn’t enough. The President should lay out the steps he can and will take to clean up our energy system, help communities prepare for climate disruption and encourage the rest of the world to ramp up action.

 This is his moment. The American people are looking for climate leadership. The President has the tools and America has the ingenuity and the solutions to face this great challenge.”

Online Resources:

WWF: President’s Inaugural Remarks Reinforce Need for Climate Action.  Statement by Lou Leonard, head of WWF's climate change program, in response to remarks made by President Barack Obama during his second inaugural address (21 January 2013).

With High Hopes for the Future: Obama's Moral Imperative to Address Climate Change.  "I wager," says WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts "that like Lincoln, President Obama will be remembered most for what he does to address the existential threat that history has presented on his watch: the breakdown of our planet's natural systems upon which all life depends, and specifically human-caused climate change."  WWF Climate Blog, 17 January 2013.  This piece  by Carter Roberts is part of the Road Forward series produced by The Huffington Post that closely examines the most pressing challenges facing President Obama in his second term.

Statement on the Re-election of President Obama.  "As the nation recovers from Sandy, the historic drought in the Midwest and other climate-related disasters from 2012, a clear national conversation has finally begun about the need to take action.  The time is ripe for President Obama to join this conversation with a strong voice and to bring the country together around a compelling vision for prosperity amid a changing climate. An agenda focused on common-sense solutions to prepare for present and future climate impacts, while transitioning our economy to clean, renewable energy will command support across the political spectrum. At the same time, President Obama now has the political space to put international efforts to secure a global climate treaty back on the right track. President Obama has the real opportunity to put protecting our environment back on the front burner as a bi-partisan issue. Protecting ecosystems and the natural resources on which all life depends is an economic, social, and ecological imperative for our country.”  WWF Climate Blog, 7 November 2012.

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