Obama’s second inaugural speech is a new hope

President Obama

President Obama President Barack Obama delivered his second Inaugural Address this Monday in Washington DC. Climate change got quite a few mentions and it looks like the second term might be the time where the climate crisis is tackled as it should.

However, this was supposed to be the case in his first term. And many analysts – including me – have been deeply dissatisfied with Obama’s lack of work on preserving our environment and climate.

Indeed, even President Obama rejected Keystone XL pipeline it is still a threat to our climate and US ecosystems. Likewise, there are still no solar panels on the White House.

Not that the incumbent President has done nothing to reduce his country’s energy consumption and greenhouse gases emissions and so on, as he had, he just didn’t do a fraction of what needs to be done.

But let’s get back a few minutes on this speech before having a look at what has to be done.

According to the New York Times, ” President Obama made addressing climate change the most prominent policy vow of his second Inaugural Address, setting in motion what Democrats say will be a deliberately paced but aggressive campaign built around the use of his executive powers to sidestep Congressional opposition. “

Joe Romm from Climate Progress notes that ” Obama went all climate hawk on America in his second inaugural address ” as it may well be ” his longest and strongest remarks on the subject in any major national speech “.

Okay, but talk is cheap as people say. You can talk all you want, but at some point you got to start walking the walk. I’ll personally grade President Obama’s action on climate change as follow in the next four years with the following four points :

  1. Total rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. This project is dangerous for many reasons. Rejecting it and preventing it from being build at all will be a tall order but has to be done.
  2. Ending fossil fuels subsidies. Dozen of billion of Dollars are wasted each year in helping fossil fuels companies pollute and thus destroying our civilization. The United States have to lead there.
  3. Enacting a sufficient carbon tax. We have seen it quite a few times in 2012, a carbon tax is the perfect solution to help America solve its deficit and climate problems.
  4. A vision and a plan on energy efficiency and renewables. Enacting strong enough helps for efficiency and renewables is needed. Companies and people need a plan that lasts and that is effective for an energy transition.
  5. Edit : of course, a binding international agreement would be a strong signal and move. This would end decades of the US blocking international climate conferences of parties.

I believe all this can be done and that President Obama can have it done.

He clearly understands what is at stake. He has done quite a few things in the past four years that denote a willingness to do what has to be done. His State of the Union back to 2011 was seen at the time as his “moon shot speech” ; his plan to cut the oil consumption of cars and trucks was nowhere near enough but a step in the right direction.

President Obama has a unique opportunity. To keep US emissions on decreasing – they decreased by 7.7 percent since 2006 – and to keep renewable energy sources such as solar and wind pursue their inexorable rise as last year alone 13 GW of wind capacity were installed. There are momentums to keep and boost.

Good luck Mister President !

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