[Vision2020] Text Of Obama's Speech Today At UN Climate Change Summit In New York

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Tue Sep 22 15:07:15 PDT 2009


Good morning. I want to thank the Secretary-General for organizing this
summit, and all the leaders who are participating. That so many of us are
here today is a recognition that the threat from climate change is serious,
it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation's response to this challenge
will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it -- boldly, swiftly, and
together -- we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible

No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of
climate change. Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful
storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent drought and crop
failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict
already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to
flee their homes as climate refugees.

The security and stability of each nation and all peoples -- our prosperity,
our health, our safety -- are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse
this tide is running out.

And yet, we can reverse it. John F. Kennedy once observed that "Our problems
are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man." It is true that for too
many years, mankind has been slow to respond to or even recognize the
magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well. We
recognize that. But this is a new day. It is a new era. And I am proud to
say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce
carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our

We're making our government's largest ever investment in renewable energy --
an investment aimed at doubling the generating capacity from wind and other
renewable resources in three years. Across America, entrepreneurs are
constructing wind turbines and solar panels and batteries for hybrid cars
with the help of loan guarantees and tax credits -- projects that are
creating new jobs and new industries. We're investing billions to cut energy
waste in our homes, buildings, and appliances -- helping American families
save money on energy bills in the process. We've proposed the very first
national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing
greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks -- a standard that will
also save consumers money and our nation oil. We're moving forward with our
nation's first offshore wind energy projects. We're investing billions to
capture carbon pollution so that we can clean up our coal plants. Just this
week, we announced that for the first time ever, we'll begin tracking how
much greenhouse gas pollution is being emitted throughout the country. Later
this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil
fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge. And
already, we know that the recent drop in overall U.S. emissions is due in
part to steps that promote greater efficiency and greater use of renewable

Most importantly, the House of Representatives passed an energy and climate
bill in June that would finally make clean energy the profitable kind of
energy for American businesses and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. One committee has already acted on this bill in the Senate and I
look forward to engaging with others as we move forward.

Because no one nation can meet this challenge alone, the United States has
also engaged more allies and partners in finding a solution than ever
before. In April, we convened the first of what have now been six meetings
of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate here in the United
States. In Trinidad, I proposed an Energy and Climate Partnership for the
Americas. We've worked through the World Bank to promote renewable energy
projects and technologies in the developing world. And we have put climate
at the top of our diplomatic agenda when it comes to our relationships with
countries from China to Brazil; India to Mexico; Africa to Europe.

Taken together, these steps represent an historic recognition on behalf of
the American people and their government. We understand the gravity of the
climate threat.

We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future

But though many of our nations have taken bold actions and share in this
determination, we did not come here today to celebrate progress. We came
because there is so much more progress to be made. We came because there is
so much more work to be done.

It is work that will not be easy. As we head towards Copenhagen, there
should be no illusions that the hardest part of our journey is in front of
us. We seek sweeping but necessary change in the midst of a global
recession, where every nation's most immediate priority is reviving their
economy and putting their people back to work. And so all of us will face
doubts and difficulties in our own capitals as we try to reach a lasting
solution to the climate challenge.

But difficulty is no excuse for complacency. Unease is no excuse for
inaction. And we must not allow the perfect to become the enemy of progress.
Each of us must do what we can when we can to grow our economies without
endangering our planet -- and we must all do it together. We must seize the
opportunity to make Copenhagen a significant step forward in the global
fight against climate change.

We also cannot allow the old divisions that have characterized the climate
debate for so many years to block our progress. Yes, the developed nations
that caused much of the damage to our climate over the last century still
have a responsibility to lead. And we will continue to do so by investing in
renewable energy, promoting greater efficiency, and slashing our emissions
to reach the targets we set for 2020 and our long-term goal for 2050.

But those rapidly-growing developing nations that will produce nearly all
the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their
part as well. Some of these nations have already made great strides with the
development and deployment of clean energy. Still, they will need to commit
to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just
as the developed nations must stand behind their own. We cannot meet this
challenge unless all the largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution act

There is no other way.

We must also energize our efforts to put other developing nations --
especially the poorest and most vulnerable on a path to sustainable growth.
These nations do not have the same resources to combat climate change as
countries like the United States or China do, but they have the most
immediate stake in a solution. For these are the nations that are already
living with the unfolding effects of a warming planet -- famine and drought;
disappearing coastal villages and the conflict that arises from scarce
resources. Their future is no longer a choice between a growing economy and
a cleaner planet, because their survival depends on both. It will do little
good to alleviate poverty if you can no longer harvest your crops or find
drinkable water.

That is why we have a responsibility to provide the financial and technical
assistance needed to help these nations adapt to the impacts of climate
change and pursue low-carbon development.

What we are seeking, after all, is not simply an agreement to limit
greenhouse gas emissions. We seek an agreement that will allow all nations
to grow and raise living standards without endangering the planet. By
developing and disseminating clean technology and sharing our know-how, we
can help developing nations leap-frog dirty energy technologies and reduce
dangerous emissions.

As we meet here today, the good news is that after too many years of
inaction and denial, there is finally widespread recognition of the urgency
of the challenge before us. We know what needs to be done. We know that our
planet's future depends on a global commitment to permanently reduce
greenhouse gas pollution. We know that if we put the right rules and
incentives in place, we will unleash the creative power of our best
scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to build a better world. And so
many nations have already taken the first steps on the journey towards that

But the journey is long. The journey is hard. And we don't have much time
left to make it. It is a journey that will require each of us to persevere
through setback, and fight for every inch of progress, even when it comes in
fits and starts. So let us begin. For if we are flexible and pragmatic; if
we can resolve to work tirelessly in common effort, then we will achieve our
common purpose: a world that is safer, cleaner, and healthier than the one
we found; and a future that is worthy of our children. Thank you.

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Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
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