President's Perspective

Obama's 'All Above' and 'All In' Plan

Posted | by Denise Fairchild
Denise Fairchild

President Obama is stepping it up. His climate action plan rightfully credits important progress during his first term. But the plan recognizes that there is so much more to do. Not only in prevention but also climate change adaptation. The good news is that the President hasn’t backed down. Read his lips. Climate change is real. Climate change is here. It is our moral obligation to do something about it! The quality of life for our children and future generations are at stake. Now that’s bringing it home. It offers a more personal as opposed to scientific argument about why a clean energy future needs to happen now.

These bold pronouncements by the Administration in the face of the aggressive backlash and resistance to climate change science and initiatives are courageous. The easy thing to do would have been to forget it and ‘ostrich’ the problems. The legacy industries and their congressional friends are probably not happy. But, I am certain that many of our colleagues in the clean energy community are not happy either. We obviously need and want more.

Obama has proposed an all above, incremental approach to a clean energy future. The Administration is tackling the problems sector by sector in ways that are palatable. There is a different strategy for the utility, agriculture, manufacturing, commercial, health and government sectors. An array of instruments and tools are proposed to drive change – incentives, loan programs, regulations, collaborations, research and development, and more. Whew! That’s a lot to keep track of and to scale up into an impact agenda. It would be easier – in some sense – and many would prefer a more sweeping, comprehensive plan that would include a cost accounting for carbon pollution and perhaps a market driven approach to carbon, such as the cap and trade approach used in California. And of course, there is some concern about what’s on the trading block… clean coal? Public lands? Keystone?

Well, there is no perfect solution, especially given today’s political landscape. And we cannot stop progress in search of perfection. Let’s keep making progress. Let’s keep calling out climate change for what it is -- global public enemy number one. Let’s keep working on a new and different energy future. As Obama advances an ‘all above’ climate plan, the rest of us need to commit to an ‘all in’ plan. Are you ready to give up cheap energy? Drive more efficient cars (or take the bus)? Pay for energy smart appliances? Buy local? Retrofit our homes and businesses? I’m working on it. Hope you are too. Read the Plan here.

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