November 14, 2012

Obama has no second term climate change agenda

Well, that was a bit of a surprise. First, I was surprised when a journalist asked President Obama about climate change during the press conference today. It would have been nice to hear those questions during the campaign, but better late than never.

I was surprised again by Obama's answer, which was basically that he hasn't yet developed a plan to deal with climate change in his second term. He said he would speak to scientists, members of Congress and others to develop one.

Obama bragged about his first term accomplishments, which he has a right to do. He did a great deal with little support from Congress. He's the best clean energy President in American history X10. But, as Obama acknowledges, there's a lot more work to do.

Obama's campaign focused on his record. He said very little about what more he would do on most issues, including climate change. I didn't expect that meant he had no plan though.

The optimistic way of looking at this is that he's listening, and he's going to spend some time listening to the right people. That means it's a good idea for everyone to make some noise.

The pessimistic view is that he repeated the framing of polluting industries that we may have to choose between slowing climate change and creating jobs. There's no merit to that point anymore. Green jobs were the most successful part of the stimulus bill. Building new sources of clean energy, new mass transit, and improving efficiency creates more jobs than keeping old coal plants running. That tired old argument shouldn't be something we're still struggling with.

I missed the beginning, but my impression is that Obama was confident and aggressive on every question during the press conference, until he was asked about climate change. It seemed like he really doesn't know what to do. I hope there's some follow up from the White House because that was disconcerting.