A State of The Union Call For Climate Action?

President Obama is making great use of his first 100 days, using his time to start moving the United States forward to a future where our economic health and growth is founded on clean energy. But we've only made a start. To keep up his winning streak, President Obama can continue to stress that clean energy solutions are economic and climate solutions, and urge Congress to pass a cap on global warming pollution this year.

In fact, Mr. President, why not make a call for action on climate the centerpiece of your upcoming address to the US Congress?

Presidents have put forward some of their boldest ideas and goals during their addresses to Congress. Roosevelt laid out the New Deal, Kennedy aimed at the moon and Johnson committed to an agenda to fulfill the promise of civil rights, all during State of the Union speeches.

Ok, technically it isn't a State of the Union speech. But by using his address to explain his plan for how the US will take up its responsibility for global warming, he would be following in the tradition of our greatest leaders. And he would find a receptive audience in Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and others who are now pushing for swift Congressional action on global warming. {Update-Reid tells AP he plans to get a bill to the Senate floor this summer.} And after all, President Obama made his climate intentions clear during the campaign. As Time magazine notes:  "... President Barack Obama, during his campaign, set a goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions 80% between now and 2050."

Of course, it's not like President Obama has been ignoring the environment up to this point. 

And of course, there's the just-passed recovery package, an important down-payment on solving global warming, whose clean energy and transportation provisions alone will create approximately 1.5 million jobs, according to an analysis by my colleagues here at NRDC.

But the scale of investment required to meet these challenges will not happen on its own. Congress must pass a bill that limits global warming pollution if we are to see enough new, clean energy projects to repower our nation and jumpstart our economy.

  • Clean Energy Creates More Jobs. Dollar for dollar, investing in clean energy-like weatherizing homes and businesses and producing energy from wind and solar sources- creates more jobs than investing in traditional energy sources like oil and gas. In fact, investing in clean energy would create four times as many jobs as would result from spending the same amount of money within the oil industry.  
  • Two million jobs can be created by investing in clean energy technologies. A September 2008 University of Massachusetts-Amherst report finds that a $100 billion green investment program would create 2 million jobs that would stay here in the U.S.
  • Cap and invest provides a framework of economic certainty. This allows investors to base their investments on a stable policy framework. As I've mentioned before, Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, says: "The current economic downturn provides Congress with its best opportunity to pass meaningful and sustainable climate legislation that will equally protect our environment, our economy and consumers... Immediate action on climate change can stimulate private investment in the new technologies that will be needed in a low-carbon economy by providing a price signal for carbon and also provide the regulatory clarity industries need in order to move forward." 

That's why Congress must deliver the key tool for the fight on global warming: a federal cap on global warming pollution. And that's why it is so important for President Obama to deliver the message straight to Congress when he addresses it next week.

So, congratulations to President Obama for a great start to the first 100 days. Now, it's time to make clear you will finish those 100 days in style by using all your influence to see that the US tackles the challenge and opportunity of cutting global warming pollution.