US President Barack Obama was publicly sworn in Monday for his second term in office. His second inauguration featured better music (Beyonce!) and disappointingly fewer crazy hats than his first.
It also put climate policy back in the spotlight.
Referring to “the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms,” Obama delivered an unambiguous pledge: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
The speech made no mention of cap-and-trade or carbon emissions. Instead, Obama suggested that his second administration will shape climate and energy policies around the economic imperative of staying competitive in a global market redrawn by green tech and renewable energy.
“We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries,” he said.
“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition,” Obama said. “We must lead it.”
The competitive undercurrent in US-China rhetoric is a poor match for the global nature of the climate change threat. Does leadership mean becoming a market leader, or spearheading global cooperation on an issue that affects every corner of the planet?
Just to put that into perspective, there are more Americans who think the government is hiding information about UFOs
than who think climate change is their problem. Forget renewable energy – sometimes the path toward reality is long and difficult, too.