News / USA

Obama Urges Congress to Enact New Climate Law

Gulf oil spill may be fueling US efforts to finish work on a stalled energy and climate change bill

Adapting to climate change is no longer an option.  It's a necessity according to the PEW Center on Global Climate Change.
Adapting to climate change is no longer an option. It's a necessity according to the PEW Center on Global Climate Change.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Rosanne Skirble

The environmental and economic disasters caused by the continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may be fueling efforts in the U.S. Congress to finish work on a stalled energy and climate change bill.

Though the House of Representatives passed its version a year ago, the national debates over health care and the economy delayed action in the U.S. Senate. Heightened concerns about America's dependence on fossil fuels may be propelling renewed action on the energy and climate legislation.  

American Power Act

Democrat John Kerry and independent Joe Lieberman introduced the American Power Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill's sponsors say that by putting a price on carbon released into the atmosphere, the measure would help reduce America's reliance on fossil fuels and cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Debate is expected sometime in the coming months. A Republican-sponsored measure is also in the works.

In a speech at Carnegie Mellon University, President Obama referred to the Gulf oil spill in making the case that it is time, as he put it, to "aggressively accelerate the nation's transition to a clean energy economy. "

In crafting the U.S. response to global climate change, the president said congressional lawmakers must take into account the real price of America's heavy reliance on petroleum-based energy.

"If we refuse to take into account the full costs of our fossil fuel addiction - if we don't factor in the environmental costs and the national security costs and the true economic costs - we will have missed our best chance to seize a clean energy future."

High costs

A new report by the PEW Center on Global Climate Change, an independent policy research group, echoes the president's view. But it adds that, even if aggressive policies are put in place to reduce future carbon emissions, steps must be taken now to adapt to greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere; emissions that will continue to pollute the air and affect the earth's climate.

And who should lead that effort?

PEW Vice President for Policy Analysis and the report's co-author, Stephen Seidel, says the federal government should lead, as the nation's largest landowner and the guardian of its natural resources, national parks and highways, bridges and dams.  

"What the federal government does, has a huge impact on where we build in coastal zones, how we farm, what our infrastructure looks like," says Seidel. "And so decisions that federal agencies are making will have an enormous impact in our ability to wisely adapt to climate change."

Thinking ahead

The report recommends that all federal agencies begin long-term strategic planning on climate impacts.

It also recommends a coordinated climate adaptation research program and a national climate service to better inform all levels of government, the private sector, and the general public, about what climate change will mean for them.

Seidel says, "The first question anyone, when they are told that they have to adapt to climate change, they are going to ask, 'What is that change I have to adapt to?  How much sea level rise?  How much temperature change?  How much change in precipitation are we really talking about?  Seidel says providing that information is a critical element to understanding climate change".  

The report identifies models for adaptation strategies from other countries.  Seidel says many cities - including New York -  also already have aggressive adaptation plans in place.  

"[New York] looked at things like where should they locate waste water treatment facilities because of the impacts of climate change, what risks are likely to occur to their subway system because it's underground and already requires enormous pumping of water during certain large rainfall events."

Seidel says adaption to climate change is no longer an option. It is a necessity.

He believes that the first priority of any climate bill enacted by Congress must be to put a cap on global warming gases. Unless carbon emissions are brought under control, he says, the challenge of adapting to global climate change will become ever more difficult.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid