In less than half an hour President Obama made it clear that combating
climate change is both a legacy issue and an unavoidable issue for future
Presidents. As expected his final State
of the Union Address was anything but timid. Here are some climate and energy excerpts from the
speech as well as related sections on leadership, the dangers of
corporate influence and government.
Facing the Challenge of Climate Change
is not inevitable. It is the result of choices we make together. And we
face such choices right now. Will we respond to the changes of our time
with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other
as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are,
what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?
So let’s talk about the future…how do we make technology work for us,
and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent
challenges like climate change?
The Climate “Moonshot”
I’m announcing a new national effort to [cure cancer]…We need the
same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy
sources…[J]obs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet
we’ll preserve — that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids
Lonely Climate Deniers
[T]here are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo….Look,
if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change,
have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our
military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the
American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations
around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.
The Clean Energy Economic Opportunity
[E]ven if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record — until 2015 turned out even hotter — why
would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce
and sell the energy of the future?
Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy
in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind
power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from
Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of
dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than
coal — in jobs that pay better than average. We’re taking steps to give
homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own
energy — something environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to
Accelerate Transition away from Fossil Fuels: End Subsidies and Price Carbon
cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon
pollution more than any other country on Earth.
Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.
Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy.
Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the
future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That’s why
I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal
resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on
taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those
communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a
21st century transportation system.
Climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world…Leadership
means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world
behind causes that are right. It means seeing our foreign assistance as
part of our national security, not charity. When we lead nearly 200
nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate
change — that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our
Balancing Corporate Control over Government
We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a
handful of families and hidden interests can’t bankroll our
elections — and if our existing approach to campaign finance can’t pass
muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution. We’ve got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the
way we live now…[There are] areas where it’s been more difficult to find agreement
over the last seven years — namely what role the government should play
in making sure the system’s not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and
biggest corporations. And here, the American people have a choice to
I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy. I
think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and
there’s red tape that needs to be cut. But after years of record
corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger
paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own
rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on
collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients didn’t
cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants
aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made
in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term
returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids
paying taxes through offshore accounts. In this new economy, workers and
start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The
rules should work for them. And this year I plan to lift up the many
businesses who’ve figured out that doing right by their workers ends up
being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their
communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America.
In fact, many of our best corporate citizens are also our most
Fixing Politics for a Sustainable Planet
most important thing I want to say tonight.
The future we want — opportunity and security for our families; a rising
standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our
kids — all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work
together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive
It will only happen if we fix our politics.
A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. Our
public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention.
Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their
voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or
the powerful or some narrow interest. There are a whole lot of folks in
this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated
debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting
elected. I know; you’ve told me. And if we want a better politics, it’s
not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a
President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.
We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so
that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around.