By Ben Geman - 06/29/13 10:00 AM EDT
President Obama on Saturday urged voters to demand a commitment to action on climate change from political candidates.
“Remind everyone who represents you, at every level of government, that there is no contradiction between a sound environment and a strong economy – and that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote,” Obama said in his weekly address.
“The plan I have put forward to reduce carbon pollution and protect our country from the effects of climate change is the path we need to take. And if we remember what’s at stake – the world we leave to our children – I’m convinced that this is a challenge that we will meet,” he said.
The plan is a series of actions that don’t need congressional approval, including carbon emissions rules for power plants that are a top priority for environmental advocates.
But while the White House plan doesn’t rely on Congress, Obama’s Saturday’s address underscores administration efforts to win public buy-in as Republicans allege the plan will hurt the economy.
And GOP lawmakers are planning new efforts to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions and other challenges.
With more attacks looming, Obama’s address seeks to undercut climate skeptics and make the economic case for tougher steps to curb emissions.
“Decades of carefully reviewed science tells us our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on the world we leave to our children,” Obama said in a condensed version of the speech he gave at Georgetown University last Tuesday.
It notes that many scientists believe a warming world brings more extreme droughts, floods, wildfires, and hurricanes, and that people are already grappling with the effects of climate change.
“The cost of these events can be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, lost homes and businesses, and hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency services and disaster relief. And Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction in higher food costs, insurance premiums, and the tab for rebuilding,” Obama said.
The plan includes a new round of fuel economy standards for heavy trucks; an expanded Interior Department commitment to develop renewable energy on federal lands; billions of dollars of loan guarantees for low-emissions coal projects; and beefed-up appliance efficiency rules.
On the international front, it calls for trade talks to expand global markets for carbon-friendly goods and services, limiting U.S. financing for overseas coal plant construction, and other steps.
But Obama notes in the address that some harm from climate change can’t be avoided, and touts provisions in the plan to help harden communities against the increased risks.
“To prepare Americans for the impacts of climate change we can’t stop, we’ll work with communities to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure to protect our homes and businesses, and withstand more powerful storms,” Obama said.