President Barack Obama is committed to throwing “the whole weight of the presidency” behind serious climate change reform, which he considers an “urgent priority.” In an interview with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner and executive editor Eric Bates, Obama addressed the collapse of comprehensive climate legislation in the U.S. Senate and highlighted some of the steps his administration has taken in the absence of Congressional action: new fuel-economy standards and investments in renewable energy and retrofitting buildings, which he believes will lead to a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels by 2020. When asked if he would “throw the whole weight of the presidency” behind climate policy as he did with health care and financial reform, Obama responded in the affirmative:
Yes. Not only can I foresee it, but I am committed to making sure that we get an energy policy that makes sense for the country and that helps us grow at the same time as it deals with climate change in a serious way.
“I’ve been here two years, guys,” Obama reminded. What is left undone of his campaign commitments — including climate legislation an immigration policy — “well, that’s what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six.” “Bringing about change is hard,” he concluded the interview. “But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”
Obama recognized that solving the problem of free fossil fuel pollution may require that Congress “do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation.” Unfortunately, the morass of political reality, darkened by $500 million of spending from coal and oil interests, does not reflect the real world. Our out-of-control climate does not merely have “the potential to have devastating effects on people around the globe,” as Obama argued, but has already destroyed the futures of millions of people, from Pakistan to Russia, from New Orleans to Nashville.
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