Obama’s climate legacy


in Economics, Politics, The environment

The New York Times reports this as a section from President Obama’s farewell address:

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, we’ve doubled our renewable energy, we’ve led the world to an agreement that (at) the promise to save this planet.


But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects. More environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. Now we can and should argue about the best approach to solve the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country, the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our founders.

Going right from “the challenge of climate change” to “halved our dependence on foreign oil” draws our attention to the weird dynamics of climate change politics.

U.S. oil and gas production has exploded because of fracking during the Obama years, but it’s dubious to claim that this is good from a climate change perspective. Huge new fossil fuel production is not good news.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

arche January 12, 2017 at 12:46 am

He mentions “peaceful protest” t0o.

Oleh January 17, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Obama seems to be the president that cared for and acted in improving the environment more than the nine presidents in my memory

Milan January 17, 2017 at 6:13 pm

He certainly adopted a lot of that rhetoric.

At the same time, he governed during the time when the threat from climate change has been clearest and the need to take action most pressing. He chose not to prioritize domestic carbon pricing legislation and encouraged a massive increase in U.S. oil and gas production.

I don’t think the future will remember any leaders from this era well. Collectively they will be seen as the people who could have acted to avoid enormous suffering in future generations but who chose not to do so. The other priorities which seemed more important to them will take on a different character when the massive and irreversible damage from climate change is being constantly experienced around the world.

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