Climate change activists Thursday ramped up pressure on President Obama to hold true to the bold promises he’s made to confront the issue in a second term.
A broad coalition of lawmakers, leaders from the worlds of business and religion, high-ranking retired military officers and many others called on the White House to convene a “climate summit” this year. The meeting would offer the president and other officials a forum to hash out measures to fight global warming, something Mr. Obama vowed to tackle during his State of the Union address earlier this month.
“Our president can be the leader of a powerful movement to reduce the threats from climate change. We stand ready in Sacramento to participate in a national climate change summit,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, joining other mayors, such as Salt Lake City’s Ralph Becker, Kitty Piercy of Eugene, Ore., Mark Kleinschmidt of Chapel Hill, N.C., and others in support of the summit idea.
The group has launched climatesummit2013.org, and lists on the site specific topics to be discussed at the proposed gathering. They include the current and future effects of climate change; legislative solutions to climate change; and methods to further reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
Thursday’s plea is the latest in a series of high-profile attempts to pressure the White House to action. On Sunday, thousands rallied on the Mall in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, seen by the environmental community as an unacceptable project that would accelerate global warming and mark a major step backward for the administration’s clean-energy agenda.
Proponents of the project point to the fact that it will create and sustain thousands of jobs while helping the U.S. on its path toward North American energy independence.
It’s unclear whether Mr. Obama will approve the pipeline project. If he does, the environmental community will consider his promises broken and his efforts to stem the tide of global warming a complete failure.
By floating the summit idea, the green movement is pressuring the White House to build on steps it took during its first term, such as a de facto ban on new coal-fired power plants and increases in fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles.
But they expect much more over the next four years.
“Leadership must start from the top, with our president rallying the country with a call for action through a national summit … . Lead, and they will come, Mr. President,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Norm R. Seip, one of several retired military officers to join in the call for a climate summit.
The White House has promised to take executive action on climate change if Congress won’t cooperate, but it’s unclear exactly what ideas are under consideration.
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Ben Wolfgang is a national reporter for The Washington Times. Before coming to the Times, he spent four years as a political reporter in Pennsylvania. His focus is on education and science policy. Ben lives in southeast D.C. and has played guitar in several bands while still in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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