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Environment

Obama Vows to Talk More About Climate Change

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorNovember 15, 2012 10:04 AM

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In his first post-election press conference, President Obama received a question on climate change. What he said was likely reassuring, encouraging, and infuriating--all at once--to the climate concerned community. To understand why, read this post by Will Oremus at Slate. He helpfully translates and boils down Obama's 601 word response to four short sentences:

1) Climate change is real. 2) We have an obligation to future generations to do something about it. 3) Doing something about it will require tough political choices. 4) I'm not willing to make those tough political choices.

Others walked away with a sunnier view. For example, because the President promised to advance a long-term climate agenda (that mostly includes building bipartisan support for action), the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg is encouraged. The headline of her article:

Obama vows to take personal charge of climate change in second term

Yes, that's a bit odd-sounding, but I think you get the point. Meanwhile, Stephen Stromberg in the Washington Post wasn't as impressed as Goldenberg. What Obama offered up, Stromberg wrote, "hardly signals an ambition in proportion to the size of the [climate] problem." Indeed, for those that trumpet the urgency of climate change, I suspect that Politico's Glenn Thrush captured their sentiment in this tweet:

Very candid answer on climate change that will anger left: Obama says carbon regulation last in line behind taxes, jobs and immigration.

Here's an excerpt of Obama's comments, which I think reflects his mindset on the climate issue:

I don't know what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because this is one of those issues that's not just a partisan issue; I also think there are regional differences. There's no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices. And understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we're going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don't think anybody is going to go for that. I won't go for that. If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that's something that the American people would support.

Ultimately, the meaning of what Obama said at the press conference probably depends on which of his remarks on climate change you chooseto focuson.

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