President Obama stresses America’s commitment to tackle climate change in State of the Union

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21 January 2015

NEW YORK: On Tuesday night US President Barack Obama delivered a clear message about the nation’s climate progress during his sixth State of the Union address, affirming that the US has been moving in the right direction, and will keep following that track.

Three key points of his speech were: the US-China deal, the importance of wind and solar energy for the US economy, and the job opportunities opened by the development of clean energies.

US-CHINA DEAL

The world’s two biggest economies, which account for 40% of world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, signed a deal last November to curb carbon emissions by 2030 at least. The agreement was particularly significant as it proved major countries are taking concrete steps prior to the Paris climate talks this December.

During his speech Obama stated: “Because the world's two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we've got."

The mention of the US-China deal signals that Obama’s upcoming meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be focused on the joint initiatives of both India and the US to develop renewable energies.

CLEAN ENERGIES

Obama stressed the importance of renewables for the country, pointing out the role of wind energy – he said “America is number one in wind power” – and the continuous development of solar power.

Evan Juska, Head of US Policy at The Climate Group commented: “When the President took office in 2008, the US installed 263 MW of solar power. Last year, it installed 22 times that amount at 5.7 GW, as the GTM Research shows. That is remarkable growth in domestic energy production during a time of economic recovery.”

A report published by the Solar Foundation pointed out how the US solar industry opened a whole new range of opportunities, as it “currently provides opportunities for nearly 174,000 solar workers and it is creating jobs at a rate nearly 20 times higher than employment growth in the overall economy.”

Juska adds: “With the price of solar continuing to fall thanks to technological advances and innovative financing, possibly reaching cost-parity with fossil fuels in most states over the next couple years, this expansion should continue as one of the bright spots in the energy sector and the economy as a whole.”

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By Denise Puca

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