President Barack Obama challenged fellow world leaders in unusually blunt language Monday to act boldly on climate change or “condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair.”
In a forceful address intended to highlight the perils of global warming and cement his environmental legacy, Obama opened the “GLACIER” conference in Anchorage, Alaska, by declaring: “We are not moving fast enough. None of the nations represented here are moving fast enough.”
That includes the U.S., which Obama said “recognizes our role in creating this problem and embraces our role in solving it.”
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President Barack Obama speaks at the GLACIER conference Monday in Anchorage, Alaska. Andrew Harnik / AP
The high-profile three-day journey will include viewing melting glaciers and eroding coastlines and chats with salmon fishermen whose livelihoods are being affected, as well as participating in an episode of NBC’s “Running Wild With Bear Grylls.” The episode is set to air later this year.
“The president has seen the show before,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday aboard Air Force One. “It’s admittedly unorthodox, but it’s a legitimately interesting way for the president to reach an audience who cares about conservation.”
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The Obama administration has tried a variety of methods and used a number of venues to move the issue of climate change from the periphery to the fore.
Over the past several years, the president and members of his administration have woven the theme of climate change into speeches on troop readiness, health and the ecosystem of the Everglades. And those efforts have included making the case to address climate change by connecting the science behind global warming to a moral imperative for future generations.
The administration has also increasingly used a regulatory approach to address carbon pollution — setting the first national standards to cut carbon emissions from power plants.
Internationally, the White House checked a huge box last year by securing an agreement with China to cut carbon emissions drastically by 2030 and a deal with Brazil to increase renewable energy production.
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However, the administration’s efforts have also rankled environmentalists, as well as conservatives who argue that he has gone too far.
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