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Climate change: Obama seeks action 'before it's too late'

February 13, 2013 13:13 IST

Barack ObamaIn a stern message over the dangers being posed by climate change, US President Barack Obama on Wednesday pledged to take unilateral action if the Congress refuses to back him, asserting that the country must ‘act before, it's too late.’

"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change," Obama said in his annual State of the Union Address – the first of his second term.

Though it is true that no single event makes a trend, Obama said the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.

"Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods -- all are now more frequent and intense.

"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.

"Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it's too late," he said.

"The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth.

I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago," he said.

But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, he will, Obama asserted.

"I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy," he said.

Obama said four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it.

"We've begun to change that.

Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let's generate even more.

Solar energy gets cheaper by the year -- so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we," he said. Obama proposed to use some of oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift cars and trucks off oil for good.

"If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we," he said.

The US President said the country is finally poised to control its own energy future.

"We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years.

We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar -- with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it," Obama said.

China is the world's largest carbon emitter, with the United States ranking in as a close second.

Image: Barack Obama

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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