“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Obama said. “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.”
But Washington observers on both the left and the right say powerful words won’t be matched by progressive action.
“President Barack Obama got green hearts fluttering when he devoted more time to climate change than any other single issue during his inaugural address,” the left-leaning Politico wrote. “But don’t expect a climate crusade. It’s more like covert action. There are no plans to enlist Al Gore or other rock stars of the environmental movement for a public campaign on the dangers of global warming. Don’t expect to see a new cap-and-trade bill.”
There are practical reasons for that.
“He’ll have rookies in key Cabinet posts — the EPA, Interior and possibly Energy,” Politico noted. “And Republicans — and even some Democrats — have made clear there’s no political will for sweeping national policy shifts. Energy insiders say the White House will dribble out executive actions and federal rules over the next four years.”
Interestingly, the right-leaning Heritage Foundation agrees with this assessment.
Heritage calls Obama’s climate claims “a willful rejection of reality.”
The truth is that we aren’t the problem. U.S. emissions are dropping, for a variety of (mostly free-market) reasons — cheaper natural gas, better cars, etc. The problem is largely in those developing countries.
“International negotiations have centered on placing the economic burden of addressing climate change on a few dozen countries while asking nothing from more than 150 developing countries,” Heritage explained. “But the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions is increasingly the developing world. If the problem is increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, no solution can be reached without capturing all sources, including developing countries.”
Obama’s inability to truly “respond to the threat of climate change” won’t prevent him from taking some steps unilaterally, through regulations and executive orders. One such order could seek to further restrict greenhouse gases from power plants, basically making new coal plants impossible to develop.
“This is a serious decision with grave consequences, and Congress needs to step up to prevent these costly, ineffective backdoor policies,” Heritage warns.
There’s simply not much Obama can do about rising carbon emissions worldwide. He shouldn’t punish the U.S. in an attempt to do something.