Obama (Finally) Enters Climate Debate

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Barack Obama on Friday gave a speech long-anticipated by advocates for climate legislation, calling for a bipartisan effort to pass legislation that will limit emissions and help transition to a new energy economy.

While the speech put some momentum behind the issue as the Senate committee dealing with the legislation prepares to begin hearings next week, it was scant on specific directives. It did, however, position the legislation as an economic and security imperative.

“There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy—when it’s the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs,” said Obama, addressing a crowd at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

It seems this is going to be the first of several Obama speeches on the subject. According to a press scheduled released Friday afternoon, Obama will travel to the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida on Tuesday for a second speech. That speech falls on the day that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will kick off legislative hearings on the Kerry-Boxer bill, with a panel featuring a number of administration officials.

This level of attention is something that advocates have long been hoping for from the president, who has thus far focused much of his public speaking on health care. While he did make a big (and rather unimpressive) speech at the UN last month, today’s speech was the first aimed at a domestic audience solely on the topic of climate and energy.

In his speech on Friday, Obama praised Senate climate bill sponsor John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the lone Republican who has signaled he is willing to cooperate on the bill. “This should not be a partisan issue,” said Obama. “Everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system into one that’s far more efficient, far cleaner, and provide energy independence for America.”

“I do believe that a consensus is growing to achieve exactly that,” he continued. Yet he also warned that it would be a tough fight.

“The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized,” he said. “But I think it’s important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we’ll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we’re engaged in.”

He also dismissed climate change skeptics (who apparently make up an alarmingly large slice of the American public). “There are going to be those who make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary,” he said.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate