By Nora Knox
Last week, President Obama delivered the 2016 State of the Union. In his remarks, he declared that as a nation we must make technology work for us when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change.
In last year's address, the president emphasized that “no challenge—poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” This year, he stressed that now is the time to commit to developing clean energy sources.
“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.
But even if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record—until 2015 turned out even hotter—why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?
Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal—in jobs that pay better than average. We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy—something environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.
Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.
Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future—especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.
None of this will happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve—that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.”
The president also reminded Congress that in the past year, the United States “led nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change—that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our children.”
He closed with faith that the American people will uphold our obligations as citizens:
“To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.”