President Obama used his State of the Union address yesterday to admit the US needs to "act with more urgency" in tackling climate change, as droughts and floods increasingly threaten American communities.
In a speech that dedicated a significant section to environmental and energy policies, Obama categorically rejected assertions from some Republicans that climate change is a "hoax".
"The shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way," he said. "But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did."
He also stressed the US had delivered greater reductions in carbon emissions over the past eight years than any other nation, as a result of the country's gas boom and increased investment in renewables and energy efficiency. But he acknowledged that "we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods".
Obama won plaudits from green groups for his highlighting of the White House's commitment to a host of environmental policies, including his commitment to making US vehicles the "most fuel-efficient cars in the world", his decision to work with states to set new emissions standards for power plants, and his support for renewable energy projects.
"We're becoming a global leader in solar," he said. "Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can't be outsourced. Let's continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4bn a year to fossil fuel industries that don't need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do."