Citing the president’s own scientists’ announcement last week the fourth hottest year on record was 2013, while predicting the average global temperature could rise by 10 degrees by 2100, causing devastating impacts on biodiversity and mankind.
“The climate crisis warrants courage and visionary boldness that transcends the politics of the day,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “President Obama has to leave his comfort zone and take action against the planet-warming pollution spewing from our tailpipes and smokestacks. He must set a national cap for carbon pollution, toughen power plant rules to achieve meaningful emission reductions, and reject dangerous Arctic drilling and the dirty Keystone pipeline.”
Obama gave climate change a brief mention in his speech:
“But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. (Applause.) 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. (Cheers, applause.)”
But Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, claimed Obama was trying to have it both ways on climate and energy when he talked about the success of his “All the above” plan, by pointing out that natural gas is "the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change." He also said, "I'll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations."
The president can’t drill and frack the nation's way out of “the climate hole we’re in,” said Brune, while acknowledging the president’s progress on solar energy and smaller steps he’s taken to curb carbon pollution through the Environmental Protection Agency.
However, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was more optimistic about Obama’s SOTUS speech, which she applauded in her statement for his call to raise the minimum wage, attention to education and immigration reform.
“The American people are expecting their elected officials to work together to tackle these issues, and many more, over the coming months and years,” said Murray. “I am ready to keep working to build on the bipartisan budget deal, and I hope Republicans are ready to join me at the table.”
“Unless President Obama changes course, he will help usher in an era of climate chaos," said Suckling. "The president must confront the big polluters mortgaging our children’s future by contaminating our atmosphere with carbon emissions, racking up a climate debt that will impose horrific costs on future generations.”
The Center listed the top five actions Obama could take to implement a stronger plan on climate change:
1. Create a national cap on carbon pollution
2. Strengthen Power Plant Pollution Rules
3. Push to end subsidies for oil companies
4. Reject the Keystone XL pipeline and other dangerous energy projects
5. Ban fracking and end fossil fuel development on public lands
For a full transcript of the speech click here.