Following up on his inaugural address, Mr. Obama devoted a lengthy passage of his speech to his intention to combat climate change, asking Congress to pursue a “bipartisan, market-based solution” and threatening executive action if it did not.
“It’s true that no single event makes a trend,” Mr. Obama said. “But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense.”
He also sounded a sarcastic note as he addressed those who don’t believe the globe is warming.
“We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence,” Mr. Obama said, before making a meaningful pause. “Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.”
The president said the U.S. can make “meaningful progress” on the issue while improving the economy. But he also warned of unilateral action, possibly alluding to the Environmental Protection Agency’s power, confirmed by federal courts, to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Mr. Obama said. “I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”