US President Obama: "A low carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come"

Clare Saxon Ghauri
26 June 2013

NEW YORK: President Obama unveiled his second-term climate action plan on Tuesday during a speech at Georgetown University yesterday. Here are some highlights from the White House transcript of his remarks.

"...As a president, as a father and as an American, I am here to say we need to act. I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing. And that’s why today I’m announcing a new national Climate Action Plan, and I’m here to enlist your generation’s help in keeping the United States of America a leader, a global leader in the fight against climate change.

"Now, this plan builds on progress that we’ve already made. You know, the year that I took office, my administration pledged to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent from their 2005 levels by the end of this decade. And we rolled up our sleeves, and we got to work. We doubled the electricity we generate from wind and the sun. We doubled the mileage our cars will get on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade."


"Today we use more clean energy, more renewables and natural gas, which is supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs. We waste less energy, which saves you money at the pump and in your pocketbooks. And guess what. Our economy is 60 percent bigger than it was 20 years ago, while our carbon emissions are roughly back to where they were 20 years ago.

"So obviously we can figure this out. It’s not an either/or; it’s a both/and. We’ve got to look after our children, we have to look after our future, and we have to grow the economy and create jobs. We can do all of that as long as we don’t fear the future; instead, we seize it

"And by the way, don’t take my word for it. You know, recently more than 500 businesses, including giants like GM and Nike, issued a climate declaration, calling action on climate change one of the greatest opportunities of the 21st century. Wal-Mart is working to cut its carbon pollution by 20 percent and transition completely to renewable energy."


"But think about it. Would the biggest company, the biggest retailer in America — would they really do that if it weren’t good for business, if it weren’t good for their shareholders?

"A low-carbon clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. And I want America to build that engine. I want America to build that future right here in the United States of America. That’s our task."


"And that brings me to the second way that we’re going to reduce carbon pollution, by using more clean energy.

"For the past four years, we’ve doubled the electricity that we generate from zero-carbon wind and solar power. And that means jobs, jobs manufacturing the wind turbines that now generate enough electricity to power nearly 15 million homes, jobs installing the solar panels that now generate more than four times the power at less cost than just a few years ago."


"Tens of thousands of good jobs were on the line, and those jobs were worth the fight. And countries like China and Germany are going all in in the race for clean — (audio break) — I believe Americans build things better than everybody else. I want America to win that race, but we can’t win it if we’re not in it. (Applause.) So — so the — the plan I’m announcing today will help us double again our energy from wind and sun. Today, I’m directing the Interior Department to green-light enough private renewable energy capacity on public plans to power more than 6 million homes by 2020. The Department of Defense, the biggest energy consumer in America, will install three gigawatts of renewable power on its bases, generating about the same amount of electricity each year as you’d get from burning 3 million tons of coal."


"Today I’m setting a new goal. Your federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within the next seven years. We are going to set that goal. We’ll also encourage private capital to get off the sidelines and get into these energy-saving investments. And by the end of the next decade, these combined efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion tons. That’s an amount equal to what our entire energy sector emits in nearly half a year."


"Americans are not a people who look backwards. We’re a people who look forward. We’re not a people who fear what the future holds; we shape it."

Read The Climate Group's response to the Climate Action Plan

Full transcript of Obama's remarks

Read the President’s Climate Action Plan

Read our report - American Clean Revolution: Why the US should play to win on the clean economy

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