Climate Action

Obama reaffirms Climate Action Plan commitment

US President uses State of the Union address to reiterate desire to shift to a clean energy economy and improve resiliency to climate change effects in American communities

  • 29 January 2014
  • William Brittlebank

President Obama yesterday used his State of the Union address to admit the US needs to "act with more urgency" in tackling climate change and improving the resilency of American communites to increased flooding and droughts.

Obama dedicated a significant portion of the speech to addressing environmental and energy policies and he refuted the assertions of some Republicans that climate change is a "hoax".

The president said: "The shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did."

Obama stressed that, as a result of the country's gas boom and increased investment in renewables and energy efficiency, the US has delivered greater reductions in carbon emissions over the past eight years than any other nation.

He reasserted his ambition to roll back fossil fuel industry tax breaks and impose emissions standards on power plants and also suggested that announcements on new fuel efficiency standards for trucks and plans to "streamline the permitting process" for key transport and infrastructure projects would be imminent.

The President also highlighted how the US was closer to energy independence than it has been in decades, and much of the credit should go to the country's shale gas boom. "Natural gas – if extracted safely, [is] the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change," Obama said.