Climate Justice & Sustainability

Obama recognises youth and future generations in major speech on climate change

Published on

Speaking at Georgetown University yesterday, American President Barack Obama made tackling the climate crisis a major priority for his second term. With a new ‘Climate Action Plan, Obama set forward a broad reaching strategy for curbing emissions, preparing communities for a changing climate and supporting action in the international arena. Ellie sums up the plan with some useful links and resources, and some choice quotes from the speech.

Yesterday finally saw the launch of Obama’s Climate Action Plan; a broad reaching strategy for curbing emissions, preparing communities for a changing climate and supporting action in the international arena.

So what does the plan lay out? You can read the whole plan for yourself here, or browse through a handy set of overview graphics from the White House here, or you can watch Obama’s speech here, but for us, TckTckTck‘s infographic has the best summary of what is - and what isn’t - in the plan:

Source: TckTckTck

The plan hasreceiveda broadly positive response from the media and campaign groups, with praise in particular for a commitment to bypass Congress to achieve the plan’s aims, and for mentioning explicitly for the first time the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But the Climate Action Plan also embraces natural gas and fracking, as well as nuclear power, going against many green groups.

So what of his references to young people and future generations? In his speech, President Obama made several references to both the role that young people have to play in making the climate action plan a reality, and to the importance of protecting the earth for future generations. But don’t just take our word for it, we’ve scoured the speech transcription to bring you all the relevant quotes:

“You know, it — it was important for me to speak directly to your generation because the decisions that we make now and in the years ahead will have a profound impact on the world that all of you inherit.”

“So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you but to your children and to your grandchildren.”

“I — I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing. And that’s why today I’m announcing a new national climate action plan, and I’m here to enlist your generation’s help in keeping the United States of America a leader, a global leader in the fight against climate change.”

“So today for the sake of our children and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.”

“So the point is, if you look at our history, don’t bet against American industry. Don’t bet against American workers, don’t tell folks that we have to choose between the health of our children or the health of our economy.”

“We’ve got to look after our children, we have to look after our future, and we have to grow the economy and create jobs.”

“What we need is an agreement that’s ambitious, because that’s what the scale of the challenge demands. We need an inclusive agreement, because every country has to play its part. And we need an agreement that’s flexibile, because different nations have different needs. And if we can come together and get this right, we can define a sustainable future for your generation. So that’s my plan.”

“And those of us in positions of responsibility will need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors and more concerned with the judgment of posterity because you and your children and your children’s children will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.”

“I want to be clear. I am willing to work with anybody — Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians, greens, anybody — to combat this threat on behalf of our kids.”

“Our founders believed that those of us in positions of power are elected not just to serve as custodians of the present, but as caretakers of the future. And they charged us to make decisions with an eye on a longer horizon than the arc of our own political careers… And someday our children and our children’s children will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could, when we had the chance, to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?”

“And remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote!”

“Our progress here will be measured differently, in crises averted, in a planet preserved. But can we imagine a more worthy goal? For while we may not live to sea the full realization of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be — be better off for what we did.”

Featured Image:Living On Earth