President Barack Obama


President Obama marked his reelection victory with a rousing speech that called for, among many other things, fighting climate change.

We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.

Don’t expect strong, or even tepid, climate legislation in the next two years. Congress will remain divided and intransigent — the House controlled by Republicans, the Senate nominally controlled by Democrats but held hostage by a GOP minority all too happy to abuse the threat of a filibuster.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Still, the Obama administration can push forward with EPA regulations on greenhouse gases — and that will be a real accomplishment.

Also, unlike that other candidate who got trounced, Obama believes in supporting and promoting clean energy.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

In his speech, Obama reminded Americans that he can’t push progressive priorities on his own:

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. … I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together — reducing our deficit, reforming out tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government.

As if on cue, climate activists on Tuesday night resumed their hard and frustrating campaign against Keystone XL. and allies sent out an invite to a rally in front of the White House on Nov. 18 that will demand the president reject the tar-sands pipeline once and for all.

One year ago, Obama punted on the Keystone decision, leaving the final call until more study had been done, i.e., until after the election. Now that he’s won, will he risk infuriating the oil industry and come out publicly on the side of clean energy and climate sanity? The issue is more urgent than ever given recent news that pipeline shortages are making tar-sands investments in Alberta, Canada, look much less attractive.

Obama wrapped up his victory speech by saying, “I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. I’ve never been more hopeful about America.”

Here’s hoping there’s finally reason for hope on climate change.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.