Some of President Barack Obama’s first words upon being sworn in for a second time were about climate change, after an election campaign marked by a lack of reference to the issue.
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity,” he said in his inauguration speech on January 21. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
He pointed toward alternative, sustainable sources of energy as the way forward. Although acknowledging that the transition “will be long and sometimes difficult,” Obama stressed the need to change in order to maintain global economic leadership and buttress national security.
“But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it,” he said. “We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries—we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure—our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
The words were a welcome balm to those who had noted the virtual absence of climate change as an issue during the campaign.
“The Sierra Club is heartened by President Obama’s remarks today in his second inauguration and his renewed vow to respond to the threat of climate disruption,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement. “Indeed, in America, our possibilities are limitless, and the Sierra Club’s 2.1 million members and supporters urge the president to cement our nation’s position as the global clean energy leader by going all in on sustainable energy, holding polluters accountable, and rejecting the dangerous tar sands pipeline. We will work tirelessly to ensure the transition to safe, clean energy sources to fight the most pressing challenge of our time.”
Fellow politicians also approved.
“The way the President spoke about climate change in his remarks today was exactly right,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, in a statement. “Addressing the threat of climate change is about protecting the future for our children and future generations, our most sacred obligation.”