Obama in Berlin calls for action on climate (allegedly)

Today on a 91-degree day in Berlin, Obama makes what has been described by the NYTimes and many others as a major speech on climate. Here's what he said on the subject:

Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet. The efforts to slow climate change requires bold action, and on this, Germany and Europe have led. In the United States, we have recently doubled our renewable energy from clean sources, like wind and solar power. We're doubling fuel efficiency on our cars. Our dangerous carbon emissions have come down, but we know we have to do more. And we will do more.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: With a global middle class consuming more energy every day, this must now be an effort of all nations, not just some, for the grim alternative affects all nations: more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coast lines that vanish, oceans that rise.

This is the future we must avert. This is the global threat of our time. And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late. That is our job. That is our task. 

(APPLAUSE)

We have to get to work.

All well and good, but the the climate part of the speech adds up to 182 words, while the speech — on the broad theme of peace and justice — totals 3291 words.

So climate adds up to about 6% of the content of the "major speech" on climate. 

John Broder in the Times promises that the White House will soon hand down new regulations on power plant emissions, in an A1 story for today:

President Obama is preparing regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, senior officials said Wednesday. The move would be the most consequential climate policy step he could take and one likely to provoke legal challenges from Republicans and some industries.

Electric power plants are the largest single source of global warming pollution in the country, responsible for nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. With sweeping climate legislation effectively dead in Congress, the decision on existing power plants — which a 2007 Supreme Court decision gave to the executive branch — has been among the most closely watched of Mr. Obama’s second term.

The administration has already begun steps to restrict climate-altering emissions from any newly built power plants, but imposing carbon standards on the existing utility fleet would be vastly more costly and contentious.

The president is preparing to move soon because rules as complex as those applying to power plants can take years to complete. Experts say that if Mr. Obama hopes to have a new set of greenhouse gas standards for utilities in place before he leaves office he needs to begin before the end of this year. 

Let's hope he lives up to his aides' promises. Based on his record, one has to wonder. 

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