President Obama on Tuesday delivered a climate change speech at the United Nations, telling 125 leaders that they are “the last generation” with the power to prevent a global catastrophe.
The White House Blog Coverage
“No nation is immune,”
“We cannot condemn our children and their children to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair,” Obama said. “Not when we have the means and the technological innovation and scientific imagination to begin repairing it right now.”
“We recognize our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to combat it.”
“It must be ambitious,” Obama said of a prospective deal. “It must be inclusive because every country must play its part, and yes it must be flexible because different nations have different circumstances.”
He reiterated the U.S. target to reduce carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, and said new post-2020 targets for cutting emissions would be announced early next year.
The administration has acknowledged that it will not be able to agree to a new, legally binding U.N. treaty on climate change, given opposition in Congress. As a result, there has been talk at the U.N., which Obama alluded to on Tuesday, of an agreement to reduce carbon emissions through public, voluntary commitments.
Poor countries have been hesitant to set high targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, citing the cost to their economies and the potential for reducing growth.
The president used the speech to unveil a new set of tools that the U.S. will provide to vulnerable countries to help them bulk up their defenses against devastating weather conditions brought about by global warming. The assistance will include scientific data and advanced technology — though Obama did not commit any U.S. dollars to a fund meant to help poor countries.
Obama would need congressional “buy-in” to provide money for a fund meant to help developing countries protect themselves from rising tides and other effects of global warming, and to get them to move to renewable energy.
The fund was first announced in 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen. France, South Korea, Denmark and Mexico were among the nations to commit money to the fund on Tuesday. The United States did not.
Obama highlighted rules he’s proposed for existing power plants that are expected to cut emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.
The power plant rules have been a major issue in congressional races around the country, where Republicans have sought to leverage anger with Obama to win back the Senate’s majority.
Obama described the power plant rules as the single biggest step the United States has taken to combat greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
Obama also signed a new executive order on Tuesday that directs every federal agency to consider climate resilience to drought, wildfires, floods and other extreme weather when crafting international development programs and investing overseas.
Obama attended the summit with two of his top climate deputies, Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy and senior White House adviser John Podesta, who helped trumpet the president’s climate agenda. (The Hill, 9/23/2014)