Barack Obama at the Clinton Global Initiative 2009, photo: a natural sound via flickr.
President Obama is certainly having a busy week -- addressing the United Nations not once but twice; speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative; the G20 in Pittsburgh. And while yesterday's speech on climate change at the UN Summit on Climate Change certainly was a leap forward compared to what we might have heard from past presidents, it wasn't quite as strong as many in the green movement would've liked. 350.org founder Bill McKibben's comments really ring true:
Had this speech been given two years ago, it would have been a completely remarkable moment for an American President. But because two years ago we did not hear this speech, the targets President Obama speaks of are no longer sufficient. Due to a lack of leadership, inaction has only made this situation worse -- targets must now be strengthened for both our long and short term goals. We have studied the science and have heard the scientists -- we must commit to bringing our CO2 levels down to 350 parts per million.
President Obama is correct that developing nations are already living with the effects of climate change -- that is why President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives stood at the UN and demonstrated the leadership that is necessary to make real progress on climate change. President Nasheed implored his fellow world leaders to turn their words into action -- he said it is complacency that is killing his country.
I urge President Obama to heed President Nasheed's call to turn words into action and make real progress in Copenhagen.
The words we heard today from President Obama were new coming from an American President, but his words lacked the details necessary to lead the world in these impending talks -- and the United States must lead. We do not have much time to motivate the world to action and we cannot waste even one opportunity.
More on Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben on Why Cap-and-Dividend is the Best Approach to Setting a Price on Carbon
Why Bill McKibben is Willing to Get Arrested to Stop the Burning of Coal
Bill McKibben on Why 350 is the World's Most Important Number