Obama spent a long time (rightfully so) setting the stage in his climate and energy speech by discussing the threats of global warming and climate change. But, on a hot and sunny summer day in DC, Obama also trumpeted a strong plan to use more clean energy. Here were 10 of his key statements about clean energy (imho):
- US just doubled solar & wind electricity: “Over the past 4 years, we’ve doubled the electricity we generate from zero-carbon wind and solar power.”
- Wind & solar power create a ton of jobs: “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.”
- Republican governors helped Obama fight Republican congresspeople in order to keep wind power growing: “I know some Republicans in Washington dismiss these jobs, but those who do, need to call home, because 75% of all wind energy in this country is generated in Republican districts. And that may explain why last year, Republican governors in Kansas and Oklahoma and Iowa — Iowa, by the way, a state that harnessed — harnesses almost 25 percent of its electricity from the wind — helped us in the fight to extend tax credits for wind energy manufacturers and producers. Tens of thousands of good jobs were on the line, and those jobs were worth the fight.”
- The clean energy race is on — where will the US place? “And countries like China and Germany are going all in in the race for clean energy. 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.”
- Let’s double our wind and solar power again! “[T]he 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.”
- Walmart is going all-in on clean energy… because it makes business sense: “Walmart is working to cut its carbon pollution by 20 percent and transition completely to renewable energy…. Walmart deserves a cheer for that. 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.”
- Our military is now going to install 3 GW of more renewable energy on its bases: “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.”
- Obama’s budget calls for cuts in oil tax breaks and increasing clean energy investment: “And because billions of your tax dollars continue to still subsidize some of the most profitable corporations in the history of the world, my budget once again calls for Congress to end the tax breaks for big oil companies and invest in the clean energy companies that will fuel our future.”
- Energy efficiency also critical: “Now, the third way to reduce carbon pollution is to waste less energy in our cars, our homes, our businesses. The fuel standards we’ve set over the past few years — years mean that by the middle of the next decade, the cars and trucks we buy will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. That means you’ll have to fill up half as often. We’ll all reduce carbon pollution…. And meanwhile, the energy we use in our homes and our businesses and our factories, our schools, our hospitals — that’s responsible for about one-third of our greenhouse gases. The good news is simple upgrades don’t just cut that pollution; they put people to work, manufacturing and installing smarter lights and windows and sensors and appliances. And the savings show up in our electricity bills every month, forever. And that’s why we’ve set new energy standards for appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers. And today our businesses are building better ones that will also cut carbon pollution and cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.”
- Federal government leading the way: “[T]oday I’m setting a new goal. Your federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within the next seven years.”
So using less dirty energy, transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, wasting less energy through our economy is where we need to go. And this plan will get us there faster. But I want to be honest. This will not get us there overnight. The hard truth is carbon pollution has built up in our atmosphere for decades now. And even if we Americans do our part, the planet will slowly keep warming for some time to come.
The seas will slowly keep rising and storms will get more severe, based on the science. It’s like tapping the brakes of a car before you come to a complete stop and then can shift into reverse; it’s going to take time for carbon emissions to stabilize. So in the meantime, we’re going to need to get prepared. And that’s why this plan will also protect critical sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid.