In a statement that will delight environmentalists the world over, US President Barack Obama has said this weekend that climate change poses the single largest threat to the future of the planet. President Obama has nibbled at the edge of environmental causes for the entirety of his presidency, even making part of his campaign about the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere.Obama has however taken a far stronger stand on the subject,
In his weekly address, the President stated, “Today, there’s no greater threat to our planet than climate change.” His statement on Saturday had a more focused environmental theme, this is because of the upcoming Earth Day on April 22nd.
The president would continue in his address to say, “Climate change can no longer be denied, or ignored,” a statement which will undoubtedly result in a political hit from the Republican Party. President Obama made this assertion however whilst also noting that 2014 was the hottest year on record making arguing against his statements much more difficult.
The United States has a lot to be sorry for in terms of climate change. The US is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China. China’s levels are still so high due to their use of coal, although the amount used has been on the decline for the better part of a year now. Obama appears to feel the pressure of this enormous greenhouse gas effect as he has pledged to reduce US climate pollution by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
“This is an issue that’s bigger and longer-lasting than my presidency,” Obama said. “This is the only planet we’ve got. And years from now, I want to be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we did everything we could to protect it.” This sentiment is mirrored by most across the world, at least in terms of political rhetoric if not in practice. One can only hope that this time the rhetoric is matched by action.
The recognition that this issue will take longer than a single presidency to solve is a step in the right direction if nothing else. Republicans and climate change deniers have such a strong foothold that the president stating categorically that this needs solving could help sway public opinion if not the opinion of law makers.
President Obama said he would travel to the Florida Everglades, a region known for its tropical wetlands, on Wednesday to talk about the ways in which climate change affects the economy. He stated, “Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure, and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry, at risk,”
Obama, who has made the fight against climate change one of his priorities in the latter stages of his presidency, has said he hopes to help seal a global deal at an international climate conference in Paris in December.
These new statements are a strong sign of where American environmental policy is heading. They are the world largest economy and whether you like it or not they can certainly help to set a course of action worldwide. Let us hope a true agreement can be hashed out in December, but leading up to that maybe the United States of America can lead by example again, and help preserve the world so that, decades into the future we will be able to “look our children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we did everything we could to protect it.”