On Tuesday, June 25th, United States President Barak Obama made a powerful and historic speech on climate, one that many of us at WECC and IWECI have been hoping he would make for five years now. With a bold commitment to future generations, Obama announced the first-ever Presidential U.S. Climate Action Plan. This helpful infographic lays out the basics of President Obama’s plan.
We are thrilled that the President’s plan will use the full authority of the Clean Air Act to limit air pollution from both new and existing power plants. Additionally, he stated that he will not approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it harms the climate, because to do so would not be in the national interest.
The plan also includes a promise for real leadership at the international climate negotiations, and a commitment for building concrete international policies that are “ambitious, inclusive and flexible”. We also appreciate and echo his hopes that other countries won’t have to “repeat all the same mistakes that we made” in the United States.
This news makes the work of our IWECI 100 Women Summit all the more timely and vital. Together we will have the opportunity to hold President Obama to his many new promises, and we share the responsibility to educate and challenge him on the places where his plan falls short. We know women will play a powerful role in the various initiatives outlined in the plan nationally and internationally, but we will also go farther. From working together to be sure that nuclear power, pipelines and fracking aren’t considered part of a clean energy portfolio to ensuring a just economic and environmental transition the work of WECC and IWECI will push the Obama Administration, and other world governments towards the future we know is possible.
In response to Obama’s announcement, former U.S.Vice-President and climate advocate Al Gorehad this to say:
President Obama's proposals are in keeping with the current political reality; inaction and denial have consumed Congress. But the climate crisis requires a new political reality: one marked by a willingness to accept solutions commensurate with the challenge.
I hope the President's speech will be followed up by a decision to make this challenge a centerpiece of his leadership during his remaining three and a half years in office. The hard truth is that the maximum that now seems politically feasible still falls short of the minimum necessary to actually solve the climate crisis. Continued and constant use of the bully pulpit, determined follow-through on the steps announced today, and additional steps in the months ahead can change the political reality and build a bipartisan consensus for the broader changes that are needed urgently.