Former Democratic Vice-President Al Gore called President Obama’s speech on climate change “the best address on climate by any president ever,” but also cast working with Congress on the issue as useless in a blog post on Tuesday that was at once triumphant and pessimistic.
The outspoken environmental activist, whose 2006 documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ first brought the issue of climate change to a national audience, described the President’s proposals as “positive steps,” but said that to capitalize on them, Obama will need to exert his executive authorities.
“Continued and constant use of the bully pulpit, determined follow-through on the steps announced today, and additional steps in the months ahead can change the political reality,” Gore wrote.
Though some have condemned Obama’s use of executive powers to confront the issue, Gore argued that engaging Congress on the issue would’ve been impossible.
“Obama’s proposals are in keeping with the current political reality; inaction and denial have consumed Congress,” Gore said.
Obama’s address featured three main initiatives: reducing carbon emissions in the U.S.; persuading other countries to follow similar steps to “Address Global Climate Change”; and preparing for future natural disasters that the administration feels will be exacerbated by global warming. The White House released a fact sheet outlining the details of the initiatives.
Gore praised one of the President’s initiatives in particular, which authorizes the EPA to limit pollution from power plants, as “most important.” Past attempts to regulate such industries through carbon tax or cap-and-trade legislation have died under criticism that over-regulating will hamper economic growth.
Gore’s blog post also emphasized the magnitude of Obama’s plans, if the President’s actions match his words: “This action — if followed by skillful and thorough execution of the plan — has the potential to fundamentally alter the course of our nation’s energy infrastructure.”
Ultimately, though, Gore also sounded somewhat resigned to the path America has chosen thus far in relation to his chosen issue.
“The hard truth is that the maximum that now seems politically feasible still falls short of the minimum necessary to actually solve the climate crisis,” he wrote near the end of the post.