Obama says ‘we will respond’ to climate change

In a nod to environmentalists, President Obama promised to respond to the issue of climate change in his second inaugural address, arguing that America must lead in promoting sustainable energy sources.

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Obama said.

“We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise,” Obama continued. “That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.”

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it,” he added. “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 president also took the opportunity to take a swing at those skeptical of man-made climate change.

“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 said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported earlier this month that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the U.S. and sparked calls from environmentalists and Democrats for more action to fight climate change.

“NOAA’s report should sound the alarm that we can’t wait another day to start fighting climate change,” said Daniel Lashof, director of Natural Resource Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Air Program. The NRDC recently proposed a plan that urged Obama to cut emissions from existing power plants.

A coalition of 70 environmental groups urged Obama to use his executive authority to address the issue of climate change.

“You have the authority under existing law to achieve urgently needed reductions in the carbon pollution that is disrupting our climate and damaging our health,” reads the letter released by the Natural Resources Defense Council and signed by other prominent environmental groups.

According to the letter, the president can use the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing authority under the Clean Air Act to set stricter emissions standards for the country’s power plants.

Environmentalists have also targeted the Keystone XL pipeline and arctic drilling by Royal Dutch Shell as part of their efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions that are linked to climate change.

“America’s Arctic — whether offshore or in the Arctic Refuge — is the last place we should be drilling for oil and gas,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement. “If we are serious about fighting climate disruption and protecting our wild places, the President should immediately cancel Shell’s drilling permits before it is too late, and ensure the Arctic is off-limits for new oil and gas leasing and drilling this year and every year.”

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