Obama gives Congress climate ultimatum: back me, or I go it alone

Last week President Barack Obama gave Congress an ultimatum on climate change: craft a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the dangers of a warming world, or the White House will go it alone.

"If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will," Obama said in his State of the Union address. "I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."

Building on his Inauguration Day pledge to confront climate change despite the skepticism of Republican critics, Obama framed the issue in terms of recent severe weather events in the US, and took aim at those who deny the link between human activity and global warming.

"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it's too late," he said.

Promoting renewable energy like solar power could make the United States a more globally competitive economy, Obama said.

"Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America," he said. "As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we."

The president's first term saw a doubling of energy from wind and solar power and a measure to increase fuel economy standards to 54.5mpg by 2025. This year is expected to see rules to curb emissions from power plants, which account for about 40% of carbon emissions.

Go Barak !