Inauguration Renews Hope for Secure Climate Future

President Obama arrives for his Second Inaugural (photo by Chris Moody/Yahoo News)
President Barack Obama delivered his second inaugural address today, making a strong case for continued action to cut carbon pollution:

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

“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.

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries—we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure—our forests and waterways; our croplands and snow-capped peaks. 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.”

“Today, President Obama affirmed what we know in our hearts as well as our minds: we can no longer turn our head away while future generations are put in peril by climate change. His vision is clear, his resolve will be tested, and the work to protect our children’s future begins anew,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The National Wildlife Federation’s four million supporters are ready to help achieve politics and policies that are sufficient to meet the challenge, cutting carbon pollution in half by 2030. My hope is renewed, because confronting climate change is not a cause of a president or a party but an imperative for the American people.”

Polls show President Obama has voters on his side. Two-thirds of voters (65 percent) say elected officials should take steps now to reduce the impact of climate change on future generations, while just 27 percent say we should wait for more evidence, according to a Zogby post-election poll.

Obama’s inaugural address capped a big weekend for conservation in Washington. On Sunday night, thousands of people gathered at the Newseum for the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball. The crowd included dozens of presidential cabinet secretaries, governors, and members of Congress. The night’s entertainment was headlined by and included a  call for climate action from “The Science Guy” Bill Nye.

>> See more photos from the Green Inaugural Ball Flickr Group

Vice President Joe Biden at the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball (photo by NWF’s Avelino Maestas)
But it was a surprise guest who got the loudest cheers:

I also came to tell you what my green wish is: that we finally face up to climate change,” Vice President Joe Biden said during a surprise appearance at the “Green Ball,” an inaugural weekend event for environmental groups.

The vice president stressed that the environment would not be a second-tier issue and thanked the environmental community for its support for the president.

“I came to say thank you,” Biden said to thunderous applause.

We may not have to wait long to get the results of one test of the Obama administration’s commitment to cutting carbon pollution. A final decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline could come any day now.

Take Action

Approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would roll back much of the Obama administration’s gains in cutting carbon pollution and would threaten wildlife from Alberta to Texas. Please take a moment to ask President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline now.