Aussie PM Gillard gives climate speech Obama won’t

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"Aussie PM Gillard gives climate speech Obama won’t"

“A price on carbon is the cheapest way to drive investment and jobs”

Australians of the future will look back on [opposition leader Tony] Abbott’s campaign with pity and shame. The pity and shame posterity reserves for leaders who miss the wave of history and misjudge the big calls.

We will cut carbon pollution. We will not leave our nation stranded by history. We will not live at the expense of future generations. We will get this call right and get this job done: For our nation. For our people. For our future.

That is a small portion of a tremendous March 16 speech by Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (here, excerpted at length below).

Obama, sadly, now refuses to explain to the American public the high cost of inaction, the myriad benefits of swift action, and the shameful, pitiful strategy adopted by the pro-pollution, anti-science deniers in the GOP political leadership — although he did give pieces of what needs to be said in various speeches back in 2009 (see links at end).

Gillard’s speech is an excellent combination of substance and rhetoric.  The whole thing is worth reading since we’re unlikely to hear such a blunt and courageous speech in this country by any major U.S. political leader for a long time:

Today we must embrace another moment of decision for the future of our nation: adecision to cut carbon pollution and build a clean energy economy for the 21st century….

In all of this, we draw strength from enduring Labor values: Protecting jobs – always our first commitment. A sustainable environment for future generations – an environment with less carbonpollution. Reform with equity, looking after those who need a helping hand. And accepting a scientific world-view in a community of reason.

Friends, the second US President John Adams once famously said that “facts arestubborn things.” No opinion poll can change the fact that climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. And we must cut carbon pollution. In a nation rich in fossil fuels, I wish it were not so. But it is. Greenhouse gas levels are one-third higher than before the Industrial Revolution,and higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.

As a result, global temperatures have risen 0.7 degrees celsius over the past century and continue to rise. The last decade was the world’s hottest on record, warmer than the 1990s whichwere in turn warmer than the 1980s. In fact, globally 2010 was the equal warmest year on record, tied with 2005 and1998. 2010 is the thirty-fourth consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th Century average. In Australia, average temperatures have risen almost one degree since 1910, and each decade since the 1940s has been warmer than the one before. That warming is real. Its consequences are real. And it will change our lives in real and practical ways.

More extreme bushfire conditions and droughts. Falling crop yields. Loss of species. Increased cyclone intensity. More days of extreme heat. Coastal flooding as sea levels rise. Bleaching of our coral reefs. And a substantial decline in alpine snow cover. Indeed, Professor Garnaut’s latest report indicates that the need to act is greater than ever. And the scientific consensus is stronger than ever. Given these realities, I ask who I’d rather have on my side: Alan Jones, Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt. Or the CSIRO, the Australian Academy of Science, the Bureau of Meteorology, NASA, the US National Atmospheric Administration, and every reputable climate scientist in the world.

It is deeply ironic that as the scientific evidence mounts, the Coalition’s positiongrows more extreme with every passing day.  Mr Abbott doesn’t care about climate change because he doesn’t believe in climate change. Yes, he says the right thing to the wider community. But put him on talkback radio and his true opinion emerges. It is no wonder that Mr Abbott told his party room not to talk about the science. Because half the Coalition party room consists of sceptics, deniers and opportunists. While decent men and women of the small ‘l’ liberal tradition like Judi Moylan, MalWasher and Judith Troeth tear their hair out in frustration watching a hard-won consensus evaporate in a cloud of denial and fear. Friends, that consensus was the product of long years of deliberation and debate

The first warning by a senior world leader came from none other than Margaret Thatcher – a trained scientist who knew what was at stake. At the 2nd World Climate Change Conference in 1990, Mrs Thatcher warned that:

The danger of global warming is … real enough for us to make changesand sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.

That conference led to the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and Kyoto in 1997 moments of hope, lost to inaction and delay. There have been some brave attempts at reform along the way. As Environment Minister, Senator Graham Richardson first proposed a climate change response in 1989. His successor, David Kemp along with Peter Costello, tried again in 2002. In 2007, Prime Minister Howard accepted the Shergold plan to establish an emissions trading scheme. Both Labor and the Coalition went to the 2007 election pledging to price carbon. That consensus has now been destroyed. And friends, let’s set the record straight about the 2010 election. Yes I did promise that there would be no carbon tax.

I also said to the Australian people that we needed to act on climate change, we needed to price carbon and I wanted to see an emissions trading scheme. Now, if I’d been leading a majority government I would have been getting on with an emissions trading scheme, just as I promised the Australian people. As it is, in this minority parliament, the only way I could act to price carbon was by working with other Members of Parliament, or else do nothing. I had a stark choice: do I act or not act? I chose to act. The Government’s plan means we start with a fixed carbon price for a temporarytransitional period a plan that puts a price on carbon from day one. We will still have an emissions trading scheme but we will get there by a different route.

Our carbon pricing model will give industry time to adapt in a steady and deliberatemanner. It will generate revenue to assist households and businesses make the transition. And it will provide a real incentive for firms to reduce their carbon pollution. The important thing to know is that from 1 July 2012, carbon will be priced in the Australian economy. The journey of transformation will begin. Friends, I chose action over inaction because of this simple truth: If Australia does not adopt a carbon price in 2011, we probably never will. This is the year of decision. Action versus inaction. Acceptance versus denial. Setting Australia on the path to a high skill, low carbon future. Or leaving our economy to decay into a rusting industrial museum. That is the choice we face. Action will protect jobs.

Inaction will cost jobs. Tony Abbott will cost this nation jobs. In his landmark report, Lord Stern noted that while action has its price, but the cost of inaction will be far greater:

“The costs of action to the global economy would be roughly 1 percent of GDP, while the costs of inaction could be from 5-20 percent of GDP.”

[UK Government, Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change, 2006]

As Prime Minister of Australia, I will not trifle with our nation’s future. I will not expose our people to such risks. We cannot afford to be stranded with an outdated high-emissions economy. We can’t freeze our economy in time, any more than we could lock ourselves behindtariff walls while the world changed outside. I don’t want us to wake up in ten years time lumbered with a high carbon economywhen the rest of the world has moved on and then scramble to catch up. Our nation is well equipped to make the transition. We have an abundance of natural resources like wind, natural gas, solar and geothermal.

For example, the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world. We have an agile, innovative business sector tempered by three decades of exposure to global competition. We have a talented workforce ready to embrace the jobsof tomorrow. As Deputy Prime Minister, I often spoke about the opportunities that will come with alow carbon economy, like my address to the Green Skills Forum in 2009. It is a conviction I hold even more strongly today as countries like China plunge headlong into new industries like solar energy while we delay and hold back. Friends, the dignity and value of work lie at the very heart of everything myGovernment stands for.

That is why climate change is not just a debate among economists and scientists. Every Australian family has a stake in what we do. Delay will cost them jobs. It will cost them jobs through the impacts of a changing climate. Like the crop failures that will come with longer and harsher droughts. Or the loss of tourism jobs that will come with the bleaching of our coral reefs. Inaction will also cost jobs because emission-intensive economies will becomeun competitive in a low carbon world.

In the quest for comparative advantage, investment will flow towards those countries that can offer more output for fewer emissions. Inaction will cost jobs. Action will support jobs. Friends, action on climate change means creating new jobs for the future. It means saving and transforming existing jobs. It means re-skilling workers for the future. We will see new job opportunities in clean energy generation. Electric and hybrid cars. Manufacturing clean energy equipment. Energy efficient construction and retro-fitting existing buildings. Carbon capture and storage. Today’s workers will find themselves in different industries and different settings. Welders and steel workers will build and maintain large-scale solar power plants. Plumbers and electricians will be reskilled to install solar hot water systems and solar panels. And there will be new jobs too. Just as in the 1960s, the South Australian community could never imagine the job sin tourism, fine food and wine, the film industry and the arts that lay just around thecorner.

Or back in the 1980s that the ingenuity of markets would create enterprises like Google and Facebook that would change the world. In a similar way, clean energy will open up opportunities we are only just beginningto imagine. Those opportunities begin with that simple but momentous decision: Putting aprice on carbon.

Friends, a price on carbon is the cheapest way to drive investment and jobs. A low carbon economy will be more efficient and more productive. It will change behaviour right across the economy, driving innovation and creativity. Like the dynamic benefits of tariff reform, a market in carbon will not only cut carbonpollution but make the economy more efficient as a whole. The countless decisions needed to transform our economy cannot – and should not- be made by government decree. They can only be made by individual firms calculating how best to positionthemselves for a low carbon future. By contrast, the Coalition wants to pick winners from a central bureaucracy located in Canberra. More Karl Marx than Adam Smith.

Their “direct action” approach was a short-term fix cobbled together when Mr Abbott unexpectedly became Opposition Leader. It is a threadbare piece of policy. Never intended to be implemented. Merely a fig-leaf for denial and delay. No Liberal of consequence can support it. No economist of standing does support it. The Coalition’s direct action method abandons any commitment to market forces. It will increase emissions by 17 per cent, not the promised 5 per cent cut. And it will cause a $30 billion black hole that the Federal Budget could never sustain….

And it’s time Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey and the other climate change believers in the Coalition stood up to be counted. Or are the Liberals not only no longer the party of the free market. But no longer a broad church party where MPs are free to express their convictionsas well? Friends, none of this means we have to lead the world, and we have not. At the same time, we cannot afford to be left behind, yet we are.

While Australia delays, our peers and competitors are on the move. Thirty-two countries and 10 US states already have emissions trading schemes. Other economies, including China, Taiwan, Chile and South Korea, and a number of Canadian provinces, are either considering developing their own ETS or alreadyhave trial schemes in place. Carbon taxes are in place in Britain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, theNetherlands and Canada and are under discussion elsewhere, including Japan andSouth Africa. China is closing environmentally-damaging, unsafe and economically inefficient small coal-fired generators at the rate of one every one or two weeks and replacing them with larger plants that are economically and environmentally much more efficient.

They are putting up wind turbines at the rate of one every hour. China has also set its own ambitious target of reducing carbon pollution by 40 to 45 per cent per unit of GDP by 2020. India is taxing coal to create a revenue stream for clean energy, and from April thisyear they will have an energy efficiency trading scheme.

In the race to build a clean energy economy, we have given the rest of the world ahead start. We’re going to have to work hard if we don’t want to be left behind. Friends, as we make that transition to a low carbon future, we won’t leave businessand workers and unions to manage on their own. That is not the Labor way. In the coming months, you’ll hear a lot about the impact a carbon price will have onemployment. Let me say this very clearly: We will protect Australian jobs at the same time as we create new ones.

The Government understands that some Australian firms compete with overseasindustries that won’t necessarily incur the same carbon costs as they would here. I don’t want jobs in those industries to go overseas. And I don’t want the emissions that come with those jobs to go overseas either because that would only compound the world’s carbon problems. That’s why the Government has committed to helping Australia’s trade-exposedemissions-intensive industries as the world transitions to a lower carbon future. Some people argue that providing assistance removes the incentive for business toreduce their pollution. I reject that assertion and I reject the lack of importance that this sentiment gives to the importance of protecting Australian jobs. To take just one example of the way this assistance could work.

If the Government chose to provide that assistance in the form of free permits assome have suggested though this decision has yet to be made, these businesses would then have an opportunity to reduce their carbon emissions, sell their surplus permits, and actually make money. Friends, just as we assist industry, so too will we assist households. There is no cost-free way of reducing carbon pollution and I don’t resile from thatfact.

Even Mr Abbott accepts there will be a pricing impact:

“I’m not saying there’s cost-free ways to reduce emissions.”
[MTR, 1 March 2011]

Amid all the misrepresentations, that is a precious grain of truth. But there is another more important truth to accompany it: under Labor’s equitable approach, price rises will be met by fair and generous assistance. We are still yet to decide on assistance measures, so Mr Abbott’s talk of excessivecost impacts is simply absurd. What is certain is that all funds raised by a carbon price will go to assisting households, helping business transition and programs to tackle climate change. Not a cent will go to Treasury. And the biggest share will go to households We will not allow low and middle income Australia to lose out. This is how Labor does economic reform. Make the big decisions. But carry the nation’s families and households with us along the way.

Friends, three weeks ago, I began a process that will equip our nation with a clean energy economy for the future: a price on carbon. It is a big call. One of the biggest in the modern era. A call that will shape the destiny of our nation as greatly as floating the dollar, cutting tariffs or introducing the GST. This nation-changing reform has been met with a campaign of fear just as Dunstan’sgroundbreaking reforms were met with fear and misunderstanding, reforms now taken for granted as part of everyday life. Like those purveyors of fear in the 60s and 70s, Australians of the future will look back on Mr Abbott’s campaign with pity and shame. The pity and shame posterity reserves for leaders who miss the wave of history and misjudge the big calls. The leaders who create fear and try to stop a confident nation dealing with thechallenges of the future.

I will never be such a leader. Faced with hurdles, I will always find a way through. Faced with choosing between taking a few knocks or doing what’s best for thenation, I will put our nation first every time, no matter what the personal price. I will always ensure that this nation seizes the opportunities of the future and doesnot cower in fear. A low-pollution, clean-energy economy is one of those opportunities. Lord Stern calls it ”
the most dynamic and creative energy and industrial revolution inour economic history.”

Mr Abbott wants us to believe that Australians are incapable of such change. I don’t share his basic lack of faith in the Australian people. Growing up here in Adelaide, I learnt something better than that. I learnt to have faith in the creative and optimistic spirit of this nation and its people. To believe that we are a smart, competent, resilient nation. A nation that has done great things in the past, and which can do even greater things in the future. A nation that understands when the soft options are gone, only hard choices remain. That is why we choose action over inaction.

We will cut carbon pollution. We will not leave our nation stranded by history. We will not live at the expense of future generations. We will get this call right and get this job done: For our nation. For our people. For our future.

Hear!  Hear!

Gillard has of course come under attack from the opposition for this speech, in part because she has switched on her campaign pledge not to support a carbon tax.  She responds to the critics here.

Related Posts (from 2009):

Don Dunstan
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67 Responses to Aussie PM Gillard gives climate speech Obama won’t

  1. HP ClimateHawk says:

    Good address by President-elect Obama to the governors:

    http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2008/11/obama_addresses_5.html

  2. 350 Now says:

    I got a kick out of one of the public comments posted in an AU online newspaper forum from PM Gillard’s response to her critics: “Let’s face it – the Coalition is made up of the very same dinosaurs who thought daylight savings would fade their curtains. They embarrass and shame themselves and us and should be ridiculed for the old fearful men that they are.”

    Looks like we in the US share the same family of dinosaurs…

    Also on a related topic, I wonder how much influence Dr David Suzuki has brought to bear on the widening support of the PM’s environmental stance. Suzuki has been doing large scale science talks there for the general public for years. I suspect that has helped strengthen the good work done by climate hawks there. He is a dynamic communicator at simplifying complex topics for non-scientists.

    Bravo for him on today, his 75th birthday. His website offers a chance to sign a “Declaration of Interdependence” that is spot on, accompanied by a brief video of narration by Suzuki and his wife and partner in his life’s work, Dr Tara Cullis. Curiously the DOI was written in 1992 for the UN Earth Summit. But it has never been more important than now as the US GOP attempts to gut the budget of virtually every environmental and natural resource agency.

    http://action.davidsuzuki.org/declaration

  3. with the doves says:

    Very good!

    “I will never be such a leader. Faced with hurdles, I will always find a way through. Faced with choosing between taking a few knocks or doing what’s best for the nation, I will put our nation first every time, no matter what the personal price.”

    This is what we want to hear. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Sou says:

    Talk is cheap.

    I hope Australia will do a lot more and quickly, and the current proposals are a start. But the same government is enticing BP to do deep sea drilling in the Great Australian Bight – at great risk.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/01/18/3115959.htm

    And Australia is among the biggest coal users and exporters in the world.

    We’ve a long, long way to go.

  5. Ao says:

    Joe – You’re a bit of a broken record on this. I understand you are unhappy with Obama on this. So am I. But given that you worked in the Clinton administration – 8 years where you had a (low oil price fueled) growing economy in which to speak up and take action but didn’t – I’m wondering why you keep turning every such story into a Obama failure story.

    [JR: Leadership comes from the top. Only Obama can turn things around now.

    Yes, Clinton-Gore didn't do enough, as I've said many times, but they did pursue and 'save' the Kyoto process, which preserved world action. Imagine how hard it was to drive action then, when the real world, can't-miss-it confirmation of the science was just emerging, given how hard it is now, when the science is rock-solid and infinitely more dire -- and global emissions are so much higher!]

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    Let’s give a hat tip to the ladies today- Gillard, Merkel, Lubchenko, Cullen, and commenters here such as Tenney, Gail, and Anna. All have shown far more clarity and courage than you find among almost any modern men, too many of whom have become cowardly, prevaricating frauds, groveling to the fossil fuel companies for power and a few dollars.

    Obama has obviously failed here, and deserves no cred for 2009 speeches. Maybe he thinks that he needs to keep from offending people, so he can get reelected and actually accomplish something. Wrong.

  7. Sasparilla says:

    Excellent article, I wish we had such leaders here in the US…looks like we’re going to be one of the economies that has to play catchup in a decade…

    On Monday, the Obama Administration announced a huge expansion of coal mining on federal lands (estimated 2.35 billion tons of coal). Obviously there were alot of corporate campaign donations that wanted that (and a bunch of people in the Administration listening).

    Nothing the Obama Administration does surprises me anymore – they’ve been complete sellouts.

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    Sasparilla, I agree. Obama is much better at talking then doing, we’ve learned.

    How about a primary challenge? Kathleen Sibelius or Howard Dean.

  9. Andy says:

    I honestly believe that Obama “gets it”. I also believe that he thinks that his hands are tied at this time. The mid-term elections were disastrous for the Democrats and he is now looking at 2012. It appears that the next 18 months will be a time of appeasement and moderation. I don’t agree with it, but I can understand the circumstances. If the 2012 elections go well, then I sincerely hope that we witness a far more progressive agenda – one that tackles climate change head-on… for the sake of our children and future generations.
    Andy

  10. Ao says:

    Joe – The science wasn’t “just emerging” in the mid-90′s – it had already emerged. The emergence was the late 80′s, with Hansen in front of congress, McKibben’s The End of Nature, the waking up to the issue. By the 1990s there was plenty of evidence, and better yet, the deniers hadn’t mobilized effectively. And since Carter there’s been awareness of the need to shift to renewable energy. This has never been about teaching the public the minutia of the science – it’s been about finding an opportunity when the opposition wasn’t mobilized. Once Fox News and the right-wing media circus became as powerful as they have (over the last decade), it’s was far easier for deniers to cloud the issue.

    [JR: Poor phrasing -- the real-world, can't-miss-it confirmation of the science was just emerging.]

  11. Ao:

    Jeez, dude. Let me put it this way.

    The person sitting in the White House today is Barack H. Obama. The next bill to be signed into law will be signed by Obama, not Bill Clinton. The next State of the Union address will be delivered by Obama, not Richard Nixon. The representative to the next climate summit will be appointed by Obama, not Abraham Lincoln. The coming Democratic primaries will be contested by Obama, not George Washington.

    Please explain to me why we shouldn’t be complaining about Obama, who currently holds the powers of the US Prseident, and instead should be complaining about someone who doesn’t hold these powers?

    Joe, please continue to put pressure on Obama (and irritate his fanboys). Let’s make it abundantly clear that the ‘bipartisanship at all costs’ approach of Obama is simply not working, and must stop right now.

    frank

  12. Sasparilla says:

    #7 Mike Roddy I think you said it with a primary challenge.

    #8 Andy, its one thing to compromise and appease on legislation with the GOP regarding legislation that affects CO2 emissions as the GOP owns the House.

    Its entirely something else to just have these giveaways to the Coal and Oil industries without getting anything in return (other than campaign donations which is probably what is happening) – they did the same thing with offshore oil drilling (not to mention helping to short circuit the climate change legislation, which they did multiple times, that was being put together at the time).

    IMHO, If the president really “got it” and what the stakes are, he wouldn’t be having his administration expand coal mining on federal lands. Just my $0.02…

  13. David Fox says:

    @Ao

    The point is Obama needs to do more, and saying that because its harder now we shouldn’t hold his feet to the fire is wrong – obviously. Not sure what you’re getting at with your posts really. Kinda trollish.

  14. Ao says:

    @David Fox

    I agree Obama needs to do more. Much more. My point is that Joe is being very one-note about it – in every post that is about any politician, world leader, etc. saying anything about energy or climate, whether it has to do with Obama or not, Joe adds a jab at Obama to his post.

    [JR: No. Search "Obama" on ClimateProgress. Not a large fraction of posts on him this year.]

  15. 350 Now says:

    @#7 comment: Are you kidding? Sibelius or Dean??? If you are looking for a primary challenger that can do a better job than Pres. Obama has done with the shit sandwich he inherited from the Cheney administration, then you might consider a call to Jesus or Moses, both historically noted for working miracles…

    To use the old saw- when we point a finger, there are four more pointing back at us. The blame clearly lies with the American public and the lazy apathy we exhibit on virtually every thing. We are like the 3 pack-a-day smoker blaming the tobacco company or the addict blaming his supplier. It is the epitome of ignorance to blame one man (with clay feet) despite the hope/hype that helped elect him. Sure, his leadership sets the tone but he has no abra-cadabra over the conservative crap in congress.

    Tomorrow, Pres. Obama could give the same speech as PM Gillard, and announce far reaching funding and initiatives into numerous green technologies and just exactly what would happen? Instant quick sand up to the knees – much like his health care/insurance legislation.

    It’s time to stop expecting miracles from Pennsylvania Avenue and start marching LOUDLY on Main Avenue.

    And since a real green revolution may require some advance planning, there’s six weeks left to organize and plan for families to march with their kids on Mother’s Day at: http://imattermarch.org/
    Nothing else has worked to date, so perhaps now is the time.

    It’s the 22nd anniversary of the oil mega disaster from the Exxon Valdez. There was a poignant ad in the NY Times from Greenpeace, Feb. 25, 1990:
    “It wasn’t the Exxon Valdez captain’s driving that caused the Alaskan oil spill. It was yours.”

  16. Kota says:

    I beg to differ.

    The mid terms are a direct result of Obama not staying on the course he was on during his election. There is no way if he had stayed on message and given firm speeches to the people that elected him on the ideals he supposedly stood for and asked for a congress that was closer to those ideals he would not have gotten one. He is doing ‘appeasement and moderation’ because that was his preference. There is no other reason.

    Further more – Fox News and the right-wing media circus weren’t able to stop the huge support that brought him into office were they? He began dumping his huge support practically before he sat down in the chair. That he couldn’t actually get some things accomplished would have been reality given those that were already seated in congress, but that he wouldn’t SPEAK to the people and tell them that they could have a greener economy, better health care, net neutrality, etc. etc if they would round him up a more willing congress; that rests squarely on his shoulders. Worse than that he actually did some important things that were the opposite of what the people elected him fight for.

    For all we know he was simply put out as a test and the so called backlash is how afraid the moneybags are that someone would and could be elected and supported and their whole house of pollution cards would come tumbling down. I can think of no reason he will not speak unless he is indeed just one of them playing good cop to their bad cop.

    Hope dies hard but dead it is so we need to get on with trying to save this planet every single day with only our will and determination.

  17. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Australian politics are probably different because the effects of climate change are already obvious and already-present Down Under to most citizens. Maybe a huge summer arctic melt will help make the average American more aware. While I wish Obama would make a simillar speech and advance the carbon-pricing agenda now, the last thing we need is a primary challenge to weaken him. He is clearly our best hope until 2016.

  18. paulm says:

    #12 Ao, your going on a bit about this yourself….

  19. paulm says:

    Once women step, in we will have action.

  20. Jeff Huggins says:

    President Obama should, and must, give speeches like this — or even better than this. He should show strong leadership NOW on climate change. He should use his position as President to educate and inform the public, clearly, and with the verve and repetition needed to get the job done. Indeed, in my view he’s obligated to do so, given the stakes at hand. Even if he can’t get the legislation passed right now, he has to set the stage by educating the public, and demonstrate his real conviction, and lay out a plan, and show some leadership (may I say, “dammit!”).

    Right now, he either doesn’t “get it” or he has adopted a “political calculus” regarding climate change that is failing and is probably doomed to fail. In the U.S. today, there is TOO MUCH ‘POLITICS’ and NOT ENOUGH SINCERITY, TRUTH, COURAGE, and EFFECTIVE ACTION. Period! By shying away from straightforwardness, verve, and courage, and by thinking “politically”, President Obama is just adding to the mess and prolonging public confusion, not to mention losing (rather than building) his own credibility.

    Let me say that again: He’s losing credibility, not building it. That means, even as he may think that he’s being politically smart, he actually ISN’T being politically smart. He’s making a mistake, and a big one. That’s my view.

    If the President thinks that he can avoid the issue of climate change now, and avoid embarking on a major public effort NOW (or very soon) to educate the public on climate change, and that he can merely start “talking a good game” as part of his platform as the next election approaches, and that such an approach will gain my vote for him next time around, he (and his political advisors) are mistaken. I voted for him LAST TIME AROUND to DO something on climate change, as he promised to do, and he hasn’t done it. Nor is he even talking about climate change much at all. In my view, he needs to show verve and leadership on climate change NOW, or VERY SOON, if he wants my vote next time around. If he doesn’t do that, he will lose credibility with me. I don’t want that to happen, but that is what’s happening as the days go by.

    President Obama should read this speech by PM Gillard, five times, and then ask himself why he isn’t giving such speeches. He should do this in privacy, away from whatever advisors have been giving him bad advice on the subject so far. If he understands the stakes involved, and the problem of climate change, then there is no “political calculus”, in my view, that should cause him to not start “going public”, in a big way, to educate the public on climate change and to set a strong stage for moving forward. Toss out the bad political calculus. Be straightforward, sincere, vital, clear, and courageous. Show leadership! If you don’t, soon, then don’t expect my vote next time.

    With “hope” and high expectations,

    Jeff

  21. Barry says:

    The real lesson of Gillard’s approach seems lost on most climate hawks in USA: a carbon tax is the quickest way to get started.

    Look at BC. A carbon tax and a cap & trade program were announced at the same time.

    BC has had a carbon tax in place for 3 years now and has collected close to a billion dollars. Most importantly it has conditioned the public and the government to the concept of a price on carbon. It was very quick to implement because it uses existing taxation mechanisms so no new systems needed. It is 100% transparent and easy for everyone to understand. It is a winner now with all political parties and with a majority of citizens. The sky didn’t fall. Carbon is priced. Most of society is on board. And removing it would require raising taxes somewhere else. Even the oil and gas pols are afraid to criticize it openly.

    Meanwhile the cap & trade component for BC is floundering and nowhere near to putting an actual price on carbon anytime soon.

    If we wait for a cap & trade as the first step in putting a price on carbon we will wait a very long time.

    USA should follow BC and Australia example and put a carbon tax on until a cap & trade is in place and pricing carbon. Tie it to tax cuts or funding medicare. It is a gigantic revenue stream that can free the government to cut unpopular taxes or save very popular programs. Tying to healthcare is a double win as it makes the link between health and low-carbon which is a true story and a winner. Or tax and dividend to hand a check to every American.

    The reality that you see in most nations that have put a price on carbon is that both government and the citizens come to accept it pretty fast and it becomes part of everyday life. The sooner we get that psychological barrier breached in USA the better.

    Carbon tax until cap & trade.

  22. with the doves says:

    @Ao

    Obama ran on addressing climate change. He has done little and said less, which behavior merits regular comment. The least he could do is speak up about it – that would cost him nothing. He is our leader and should use his ability to influence events and perceptions.

    It’s very possible that “appeasement and moderation” will not be politically successful anyway. The administration seems to think “winning the future” and “we’re gonna grow our way out of this” are the way to go. Well, it’s very conceivable that we won’t grow our way out of this. The recovery is weak, and could be torpedoed entirely by another spike in oil prices. Then what will they have? It will be a repeat of 2010.

  23. Kasra says:

    Brings tears to my eyes.

    Should be copy and pasted verbatim (maybe change the names — insert Fred Upton, James Inhofe) onto Obama’s next SOTU.

  24. David Fox says:

    Ao says:

    “– in every post that is about any politician, world leader, etc. saying anything about energy or climate, whether it has to do with Obama or not, Joe adds a jab at Obama to his post.”

    As well he should. I’m sure that if Bush were president, or Michele Bachmann in the future, the jabs would fly their way as well.

    The POTUS is singular in his power to do something about climate change(.) Yes, there are others who need to do more as well; us individuals, congress etc. But Obama has been a TERRIBLE leader in almost every category including climate change.

    It would be difficult to read Gillard’s speech and NOT compare that kind of leadership to our own.

  25. Mark says:

    Karen (17), as a boy I recall Jimmy Carter’s prime time address announcing steps to deal with the “Energy Crisis”. I see no reason for Obama to wait for the January State of the Union address. Instead, I want to see congress put bills on Obama’s desk denying climate science funding to various gov’t agencies and (absurdly) overturning the science of climate change to strip EPA of regulatory power. And then, I want to see Obama deliver this speech in a prime time address, explaining why he’s going to veto it, and instead use his Executive Order powers to declare full out war on climate change.

    I stepped out of my usual Green Party support to vote Obama last time around. If he doesn’t come through, I’ll probably go back to the Green Party next time.

  26. Colorado Bob says:

    In 60 years, the Arctic got two degrees warmer
    Statistics Canada crunches temperature readings for 1948 to 2009

    http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/24663_arctic_has_warmed_over_the_past_60_years_statistics_canada/

    Good map in this link.

  27. mikel says:

    For a view from the other side of the pond, see
    http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/CH_CPRE_lect/CH_CPRE_lect.aspx

    The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change has also published a 2050 pathway calculator.
    This gives us citizens a change to play with the various choices. One caveat with the calculator is that it doesn’t have costs built in. That is coming for version 3.

  28. Mark says:

    The science has finally won through with her – it’s a good speech. And she is right to be scared given Australia’s perilously exposed ecology. Let’s wish her well in overcoming the denialist machine, which is very powerful in Australia.

  29. Jon says:

    “Maybe a huge summer arctic melt will help make the average American more aware.”

    Maybe. I hope so. It would certainly leave a lot of the “sea ice has been recovering since 2007 and will continue to do so” crowd looking even more foolish and discredited than usual. But I’m afraid nothing short of a replay of last summer’s Russian heat wave in the lower 48 will suffice.

  30. 350 Now says:

    @16 says: “The mid terms are a direct result of Obama not staying on the course he was on during his election.”

    My understanding of this is because Democrats have never, ever turned out strongly at mid-terms, and certainly not at the fever pitch seen at Pres. Obama’s election. And with this mid term, the Koch-GOP Tea Party money machine had the fever pitch to recapture the House in a land slide plus install those conservative governors in so many states.

    It’s not “Obama not staying the course” and saying it doesn’t make it true despite how much we’d like to blame one human being for the careless sloven lifestyles of 300 million or so citizens… I too would love to hear a State of the Climate speech. But it seems he has about a dozen other major breakdowns each week to deal with in addition to the climate. I’m not an Obama apologist, but I must say hearing this blame game and name calling reminds me of 5 year olds on the playground.

    Re @ 30 – huge summer arctic melt making the avg Amer. more aware? You have more faith than I. I think it will take $7 per gallon gas and empty grocery shelves to get the majority’s attention.

  31. Bob Potter says:

    At some point climate change will be simply impossible to deny, even by the GOP (Greedy Old Polluters.) Obama and the DEMs can “own” this issue if they would only speak up. Obama must try, even (and especially) if thwarted by the forces of evil. Otherwise, and this will be too painful to watch, the GOP will cite the horrible effects of global warming as another DEM failure, saying that Obama dithered while the world burned.
    Isn’t someone on this website in a position to get through to him?

  32. climate undergrad says:

    “Obama ran on addressing climate change. He has done little and said less, which behavior merits regular comment”

    I seem to remember a climateprogress article calling Obama the “Green FDR” (ie has done more for the climate than any other president, Clinton included.) Do we refute that now? I do believe that we need to keep pressure on Obama to address climate in a far more meaninful way, far faster than is currently occurring. That being said he does have a lot on his plate such as the 2 (wait, 3?) wars going on and a lot of less-than-intelligent congressmen to deal with.

    [JR: Sadly, he needed to push hard for and pass a climate bill to become a "Green FDR."]

    So I do feel Ao makes a fair (and untroll-like) point. Obama has not been perfect, his messaging needs help, the SOU was flawed, etc. But don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect – remember we could’ve had Mccain in 2008 and we could have X in 2012 with FAR WORSE consequences for the climate/civilization. Trolls (human or otherwise) do not deserve to be compared to this commenter.

    All that being said – if you’re listening Mr. Pres, please give this speech. ASAP.

  33. tst says:

    My apologies for straying off topic, but I need a hand in a hurry. Can anyone suggest a short (3 to 5 minute) climate video – or video segment – with a recognized expert in the field laying out the unvarnished truth on our current predicament? I want someone who looks into the camera and makes short, declarative sentences about the big picture. I’ve found a ton of wonky stuff, with folks getting wrapped up in sea ice or temperature data, but I need a climate expert who explains what we’re facing in a blunt yet professional clip. Any suggestions?

  34. 350 Now says:

    TED talk by Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

    Wondering… at what point in time did (the majority) of republicans forsake the value of conservation, and why?

    Re @33: Do I remember correctly that John Kerry said that the climate bill that failed to pass was so weakened by GOP that it was hardly worth passing?

    [JR: No, didn't say that.]

  35. David Fox says:

    @ClimateUndergrad

    “All that being said – if you’re listening Mr. Pres, please give this speech. ASAP.”

    Agreed, I wish he would, but he would also have to back that up with deeds. For me personally, this is the crux of why I don’t have much faith in Obama. He strong on the pretty words, but dismal on deeds.

  36. madcitysmitty says:

    How could Joe ignore Obama in his “lead” on this amazing speech by another head of state? It almost demanded a leader-to-leader comparison.

    In the four months that I’ve been a daily reader, I’ve found Joe’s praise and criticism of Obama and his administration remarkably well calibrated.

    And, if Obama’s leadership can’t compare to what we’re seeing in some other places(yet)let’s not be naive enough to believe we can elect someone better in 2012.

  37. Harry Middlemas says:

    It makes me cry to hear another leader give a speech that our President should be giving. He said such great things during the campaign, and now says and does little (at least on global warming). In the past, his accomplishments so far would probably make him one of the greater presidents. Unfortunately for him, and us, this is not the past and grand things need to be done.

    I had hoped that he would undertake something akin to President Roosevelt’s weekly address’s during WWII but have them be about global warming. I agree with Joe that leadership has to come from the top and he has the bully pulpit to educate the public about the dangers and opportunities regarding global warming.

    Harry

  38. Joan Savage says:

    Australia’s hard knocks in the last decade seem to have been treated by US press as separate episodes, yet they form a big (unspoken) foundation for Gillard’s address.

    Drought drove Australian rice production down. Wild fires raged; heat waves hit. The 2011 floods, east and west, are simply the more recent in the mega-weather events. I’m not sure I remember all of them, and I feel aghast at the thought of possibly having forgotten something major.

    Looking at current US press coverage, the understanding of increased intensity hasn’t hit home in the US in the way that many Australians get it.

    The long term 2011 forecasts for the US don’t shout out any one crisis, though the expected heat in the Southwest, or an active hurricane season, could lead to other factors like water rationing, wild fires, or an internal exodus from a super storm.

    Even so, we can expect to see conflicts of interest like politicians in post-Katrina Louisiana who are still beating the drum for petroleum, a big business in Louisiana.

    Unlike the EU, the US doesn’t have a recent memory of thousands dead of heat, a European memory that helps squelch the obnoxious infomercials for special interests.

    A burning question for significant change in public policy is when does the pattern-recognition kick in for the general public?

  39. MarkF says:

    if Scotland can do this, surely the sole world superpower, the USA can do it too? outdone by…… Scotland?

    23/09/2010

    Scotland’s renewable electricity target for the next decade is being raised from 50 per cent to 80 per cent, First Minister Alex Salmond announced today.

    The FM confirmed the Scottish Government’s increased national target – now 80 per cent of Scottish electricity consumption to come from renewables by 2020 – ahead of a major international conference in Edinburgh next week to help accelerate investment in the growing low carbon economy.

    Scotland’s existing target was established in 2007 and, aided by a rapid expansion in wind power, the country is on course to exceed its interim target of 31 per cent in 2011.

    The Scottish Government has now calculated that significantly higher levels of renewables could be deployed by 2020 with little change to the current policy, planning or regulation framework in Scotland. A separate study for industry body Scottish Renewables, published today, reports similar conclusions.

    Mr Salmond said:

    “Scotland is blessed with abundant natural energy sources, particularly in our seas, where Scotland is estimated to have a quarter of Europe’s potential wind and tidal energy capacity and a tenth of its wave resource. We are already on the path to a low carbon economy – Scotland gets nearly a quarter of it electricity from green sources.

  40. Michael Tucker says:

    Nov 18, 2008 – Then President-elect Obama said, “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,” Mr. Obama said. “Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”

    Even though during the campaign he said that he believed we could develop “clean coal” and he did support more domestic drilling he also vowed to cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.

    Sept 22, 2009 – President Obama addressed the UN. It was a pretty good speech and Huff-Post has the transcript. In that speech he said:

    “We know that our planet’s future depends on a global commitment to permanently reduce greenhouse gas pollution. We know that if we put the right rules and incentives in place, we will unleash the creative power of our best scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to build a better world. And so many nations have already taken the first steps on the journey towards that goal.

    But the journey is long. The journey is hard. And we don’t have much time left to make it. It is a journey that will require each of us to persevere through setback, and fight for every inch of progress, even when it comes in fits and starts. So let us begin. For if we are flexible and pragmatic; if we can resolve to work tirelessly in common effort, then we will achieve our common purpose: a world that is safer, cleaner, and healthier than the one we found; and a future that is worthy of our children. Thank you.”

    I now see where the glitch is. You can’t proceed in fits and starts IF “we don’t have much time.” That is a ‘tell’ that indicates to me that we should expect to have many more fits than starts.

    Jul 23, 2010 – After many missed opportunities to address the issue, including the oil gusher in the Gulf, and after the climate bill evaporated in the Senate Mother Jones had this to say:
    “…the administration applied the same backroom approach it took to health care reform. Instead of waging a public debate to pit the American people against the corporate polluters, Obama gave the polluters a seat at the negotiating table…”

    So no real attempt was ever made to engage the public as Prime Minister Gillard is doing. So now we know…Obama trusts backroom deals more than public engagement; kind of like how he dealt with Libya.

  41. Peter M says:

    Democrats these days have become nothing more then moderate republicans. Why? The far right has used powerful effective propaganda to spread misinformation to Americans. I am finding that those who serve even in the state democratic administration like here in blue Connecticut remain ignorant to the dire future we face regarding AGW.

    It only seems when climate events begin to hit us in the face- will we see change—but I have said that before here.

    As Joe has said, BO has turned out to be a very pragmatic politician, that unfortunately may have been fine 20 years ago, but considering what we are facing in the future, he reminds me as one of the Presidents from 1840-1860 that did nothing to solve the nations simmering issues with slavery.

  42. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Wouldn’t it be possible for some of you to get together one weekend and design an effective strategy to help him out? If you even coordinated the actions of your various groups and agencies, it would show the people and the President how much support there really is.

    I know all that belief in leadership etc but give the bloke a hand when he needs it.

    Re the situation in Oz, I agree with Sou. No fat ladies singing anywhere around here yet. Apart from the filthy demo we saw 2 days ago, there is an email doing the rounds ‘explaining’ why it is impossible for CO2 to be warming up the world. Very cool and (il)logical and designed to appeal to those who were away the day their teacher did GHG. Its going to be long and not pretty. One good speech does not a victory make, ME

  43. climate undergrad says:

    @ tst my favorite is the youtube video entitled;

    More Congressional Climate Testimony: Ben Santer and Richard Alley

    6:03 – Alley is amazing as usual.

  44. Jeremy says:

    As an Australian I agree that it’s a good speech, but I think the actual policy being put forward by the government is not even close to being good enough. The government has set a target of a reduction by 2020 of 5% in emissions. They are bringing in a carbon tax, but they’re also going to be compensating “carbon intensive industries” and households. They assure us that in industries like coal and aluminium no jobs will be lost, and they assure us that our cost of living will barely change at all.

  45. 350 Now says:

    Re @ 41 – writes “So now we know…Obama trusts backroom deals more than public engagement; kind of like how he dealt with Libya.”

    But it was Kerry and Lieberman, and for awhile Lindsey Graham doing the negotiations with big oil, T Boone Pickens, the Chamber, etc etc. Maybe we should be more careful where we lay the blame. And thus it seems the answer to the question of “who killed the climate bill?” has several answers, as did the question, “who killed the electric car?”

    Quote from the New Yorker article, online, page 9:
    “By the end of April, about sixty thousand barrels of oil a day were flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. To many environmentalists, the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was a potential turning point, a disaster that might resurrect the climate legislation. But in Washington the oil spill had the opposite effect. Kerry and Lieberman were left sponsoring a bill with a sweeping expansion of offshore drilling at a moment when the newspapers were filled with photographs of birds soaking in oil. Even worse, the lone Republican, who had written the oil-drilling section to appeal to his Republican colleagues, was gone. The White House’s “grand bargain” of oil drilling in exchange for a cap on carbon had backfired spectacularly.”

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/11/101011fa_fact_lizza#ixzz1HYSEsBmD

    @43 ME: A terrific idea, and long long overdue…

  46. Richard Brenne says:

    Wow! What a speech! “Growing a pair” is metaphorical, not anatomical, as Gillard wonderfully demonstrates.

    Also I support Mike Roddy’s comment at #6. As a lifelong feminist myself, I feel chicks rule.

    (The above sentence, by the way, is an attempt at ironic humor, best illustrated by a local fire truck getting a cat out of tree and then running over the cat as it left.)

    There was a comedian (I wish I could remember who) back a couple of decades ago who said that “If women ran countries, there wouldn’t be wars.” Then he paused and said, “Except in the case of Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and every woman who’s ever run a country.” He appeared to be making a point about generalizing and pointing fingers.

    Fortunately this has not proven to be the case more recently, but it is important that women leaders do not allow pressure from men to provoke or become entangled in unnecessary wars. This is also true in the U.S. where Democratic presidents who were more doves than hawkish Republicans got involved more deeply in WWI, Korea, Vietnam (both Kennedy and Johnson) and now more recently with hundreds of cruise missile attacks by both Clinton and Obama in part to take the wind out of Republican sails. That should not enter into the equation to go to war, and in most of the last two decades the great woman leaders of the world have realized this and acted more appropriately than their male counterparts. All of this needs to be considered during our current situations in three Muslim countries, including Libya.

    This speech is often a work of art in its strength, courage, conviction, clarity and sense of purpose, as well as political skill. If Gore had run his 2000 campaign with all these attributes and this pair, we could’ve been spared the George W. Bush administration as we should have and could be a decade or two ahead of where we are in relation to addressing climate change.

    Now all Australia has to do is enact her vision and hopefully stop being the world’s leading exporter of coal, which they’ve been for many years. Australia ships over a quarter of the world’s coal exports, mostly to Japan and China, and only Indonesia is close, with Russia a distant third exporting less than half of what Australia does.

    The best way to sequester coal is to leave it in the ground where it belongs.

    But Gillard boldly faces countless political realities I can’t even begin to imagine, as does Obama. I just hope and pray that he grows a pair (again, mostly metaphorically) close to hers.

  47. 350 Now says:

    Tst @ #34 – Although the length of the videos below is a bit longer than you requested, they are the best and easiest understood of any I have found online. I first discovered the link at the Skeptical Science website a few months ago and now I attach the links to most of my emails…

    All can be accessed at Dr John Price’s website at:
    http://www.grandkidzfuture.com/grandkidzfuture.com/Welcome.html

    I think they should be required viewing in schools, and if I’m ever elected Queen of the World, adults will be required to view them on the first day of every month. Yes, 12x/year, then perhaps the message will sink in…

    Introduction – 6 minute overview –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV8B1rHuyn0&feature=player_embedded

    Our Grandkid’s Future and the Climate – Part 1 of 2 – 10 minutes
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndKwcnjNKmc&feature=related

    Part 2 of 3: 10 minutes
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxI_BdBF6Ho&feature=related

    Part 3 of 3: 10 minutes
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGQg7SUQqyk&feature=related

  48. Vic says:

    Far and away the most common argument put forward by the denialists here in Australia is that because we only produce one or two percent of the world’s GG emissions, then any action Australia takes would make little difference to the global warming problem. For decades it has been their one and only logical argument.

    USA denialists don’t have the luxury of such a logical argument. A significant cut in US emissions *would* (undeniably) help stave off the next climate tipping point. If not from your own reductions, then from the reductions of all the tag-along nations that still look to USA as a world leader. If USA moves, so will they. 

    This is your game USA. The rest of the world is on the sidelines watching and waiting, drowning and starving.       

  49. Mike Roddy says:

    Vic, you’re right, it’s on us Yanks. Deniers here actually try to blame the Chinese, who would certainly act (and stop importing Aussie coal) if the US got serious. Here’s my take on this from last year:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/06/10/china-india-global-warming-greenhouse-gas-carbon-dioxide-emissions/

  50. Sarah says:

    Wow.

    Although it took me several tries to get past the great phrase “the job sin tourism”.
    (I thought she was advocating that Aussis start competing with Thailand.)
    :-)

  51. Steve says:

    A big test is going to be coming when Hillary Clinton makes the announcement on the Keystone pipeline which has now been put off until the end of this year because of pressure from the environmental lobby. As some of you may know this pipeline will greatly expand the market in the USA for tar sands oil from Canada. The Canadian government is in lock step with the GOP and the American oil oligarchs on this issue. They are exerting tremendous pressure on the administration. If that pipeline gets approved clean energy will suffer a tremendous setback. I’m Canadian and am alarmed by my government who just the other day shut down a world class climate lab in the high arctic because of the “inconvenient” information that was being collected. If there is a government whose intentions on the climate file could be considered truly evil it is my country’s government.

  52. Barry says:

    Vic (#49) I find it hard to believe that the 14th biggest climate polluting nation — Australia — thinks it is logical that it doesn’t need to clean up its pollution levels. Wow. And Australians are 8th worse on the planet in per capita emissions.

    Might as well give up on climate stabilization right now.

    If Australia doesn’t need to cut GHG then neither do any of the other 172 nations that have fewer total emissions that Australia. Right?

    Is that where we are at now? A nation that averages 20 tonnes of GHG per person…more than 180 other nations…doesn’t need to cut GHG? Double wow.

    If you look at nations that produce less than 2% of global GHG — like Australia does — they combined still dump over 40% of global GHG. So I guess we just give up on that 40%. It apparently doesn’t matter.

    And Australia doesn’t even bother to count its coal shoveling into China in the GHG footprint of its economy.

    If Australians don’t need to cut GHG, then nobody does and we can all just have a party in the few party years remaining.

  53. Barry says:

    Mike (#50), I strongly disagree that the Yanks have to change but not the Australians. Both nations have the same per capita GHG footprint. And Australians have the hidden monster stomp of being the coal drug pusher of the globe…and pretending they aren’t responsible for any of that coal export CO2.

    Even ignoring the world record coal carbon export, Australia’s economy is still much dirtier than USA when you measure GDP produced per tCO2 emitted. Since 1990 the USA has done a much better job removing GHG from GDP than Australia has.

    That is exactly what Gillard is trying to say. They have an extremely dirty economy that is falling behind in the race to create prosperity in a declining CO2 future.

    It is just insane that people think Australians…of all people…don’t need to get there GHG under control pronto.

  54. Roger says:

    This speech was amazing—the type of speech Obama should have made by now, and the one he should emulate. All his speech writers need to do is to tweak it for use in the Oval Office.

    Dear PRESIDENT OBAMA, Are you listening? This is really, really important to all of US!

    We in the US are acting like the biggest kid on the block, except for our lack of leadership. Look at our newest ME military action. Where was the moral leadership—the coming to the aid of citizens seeking democracy over dictatorship? Instead, we timidly tagged along with others.

    Now, can we at least sort of lead on the far more important issue of climate? We in the US have been looked to for leadership for decades. Do we really want to be saying, “Oh, never mind; you go ahead, maybe I’ll come later and try to catch up with you smaller guys—if it’s not too late.”

    How wonderful it would be for Obama to deliver a similar, prime-time, preemptive, all channel “STATE OF THE CLIMATE” speech from the White House Oval Office, with paid repetitions on all TV shows. It could change everything overnight. We could move from a heads-in-the-sand situation to a “let’s get this job done” mind set, while also stimulating the economy, adding jobs, and more. In fact I just came from a Harvard lecture declaring US superiority in entrepreneurship. All we need is clear, stable, scientifically-sound policies!

    Look, the President of the US, with all of his powers, his access to the best PR firms, scientists, speech-writers–you name it—clearly has the power to explain the scientific TRUTH on such a critical issue. (It’s not as if he needs to tell Americans that evolution is a scientific fact—that would be far more challenging!) Besides, in today’s small, well-connected world, how can an issue such as climate change be true everywhere in the world EXCEPT in the United States?

    C’mon Obama, this is your chance to be mankind’s hero of all time: You can turn this “ship” before we “hit the iceberg.” But, with your silence, most American’s don’t believe it’s THAT serious. How sad to “flush” mankind’s long, glorious history (along with all the millions of years of evolution that came beforehand), all because one powerful man remained so silent!

    Hey, dear worldwide CP readers, please do YOUR part in ASKING Obama to boldly speak out to educate and lead on climate. You have many options to make your important voices be heard:

    1) Sign the Obama petition found at http://www.change.org/global_warming_education_network.
    2) Alternatively, you can call Obama’s comment line, 9-5, M-F at 1-202-456-1111, or
    3) Send a written message by clicking on the “Contact Us” button in the upper right corner, at http://www.whitehouse.gov. (You’ll find a place to type your comment, and then send it in.)

    Remember “the magic three-letter word” that we all tend to forget we can use–spelled A-S-K!

    Do it now, while you’re thinking of it—or condemn yourself, and those you love to H and HW.

    Warm regards,

    Roger

  55. Anonymous says:

    Barry @ 53,

    I did not for one moment try to suggest the rest of the world should stand idly by and let USA sort it all out. I applaud the many nations who are starting to act in a meaningful way, in spite of the fact their efforts won’t achieve the desired goal should USA continue business as usual, which appears to be the case.

  56. Vic says:

    Barry @ 53,

    I did not for one moment try to suggest the rest of the world should stand idly by and let USA sort it all out. I applaud the many nations who are starting to act, in spite of the fact their efforts won’t achieve the desired goal should USA continue business as usual, which appears to be the case.
    At the end of the day we are all in this together, and every one of us need to do the hard yards. Otherwise every one of us loses.

  57. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Indeed it was great, a speech in memory of Don Dunstan, a great Labor leader in South Australia. If Donny was still alive, sporting his legendary pink shorts, he would have been making speeches like this for years because he was an intellectual and an idealist, two types not found in the ALP these days. This speech is, in fact, so completely in contrast to the entire sorry debacle of Gillard’s PMship, so far, that I thought that I was having an acid flash-back when I read an excerpt. Now comes the real test-will she stick to it as the Murdoch bufocrats are turned loose, and the mining plutocrats spend a little loose change on a scare campaign.

  58. Jeandetaca says:

    About Climate change, Australia is often depicted as the canary in the coal mine; let us hope that the canary will show us how to set in place an effective price on carbon to lead us towards the decarbonisation of our economy.
    Also, thank you for Jeff comment (20).

  59. Tony O'Brien says:

    One really good speech could do so much to turn this around. What happened to “Yes we can”. Is it “Yes we could have but it was a little bit hard”?

  60. Steve says:

    #49 Vic, the very same argument is trotted out here in Canada by both denialists and the federal government. Their argument is that we (Canada)only produce 2% of the worlds output of CO2 so it doesn’t make any difference whether or not we take any action. They further claim our economy would be harmed and all for what?…a 2% reduction. On a per capita basis Canadians are one of the worst polluters on the globe. Of course this argument flies in the face of “think globally, act locally”. It is our federal government which swims in these fantasies. Some of our provincial governments (Canada has 10 provinces and three territories) are a different matter. BC has the world’s only carbon tax, and it’s working. Ontario and Quebec are part of the Western Climate Initiative with California. Ontario has a huge push on for renewable energy. Because of this Ontario is been slagged as spend thrift socialists by right wing extremists. Alberta which is where the tar sands are mined is the center of denial extremism and they drive the federal government’s position on climate. It’s the same old story…follow the (dirty) money.

  61. Mike Roddy says:

    Barry, #54, you misunderstood my post. Of course Australia should take serious action to reduce its emissions, beyond what the PM is proposing here. The point I was making is that many countries are using US inaction as cover to do nothing, making our policies disproportionately influential. Everybody’s pointing fingers- at the Chinese, the Aussies, the US, India, and Canada. Only big change here can break this inertia.

    Steve, #52, it appears that the oil companies are running things in Canada, too. Are the Canadian people going to stand up to them, and help activists in the US stop that insane tar sands pipeline?

  62. Larry Chamblkn says:

    This speech is powerful in its honesty and courage. My only hope is that Obama will give such a speech after he travels the middle road through the next election. I think he plans to come out with bold climate initiatives when he has nothing to lose, when all elections are behind him. That may be out best hope.

  63. Jim says:

    Not only is Obama not leading, but another rea tragedy is that he has silenced the authoritative scientific voices, such as Lubchenko and Chu, from prominently and publicly raising the scientific alarm.

  64. Michael Tucker says:

    If that were true Chu should resign. If that is true and Chu does not resign then Chu should no longer be trusted but…I don’t believe it to be true.

  65. Caliban says:

    Yep it was a great speech. I was very happy that Gillard had finally come out and nailed the issue of climate change and the need for an ETS. BUT the media coverage here has been terrible – the media keeps promoting this debate as balanced by promoting the same old climate denial arguments we hear again and again. We even have our own proto-Tea party movement springing up on this, promoted by shock jocks and talking about ‘their freedom’ and constraints on their lifestyle! Indeed given the current political situation I’m not at all optimistic we will see any real legislative action on climate change in Australia given the media’s role in promoting climate denial.

  66. Yahzi says:

    Before you go all postal on Obama for not saying something Julia Guillard said, remember, there’s a lot of things she can say that he can’t.

    Like this:

    FAINE: Do you believe in God?

    JG: No, I don’t Jon, I’m not a religious person.

    Give Obama a population that will let him tell the truth about angels and fairies, and who knows? He might go all bully pulpit on the environment!