Obama Addresses Climate Change in Inaugural Speech
Fidelis E Satriastanti
I wasn’t really waiting for US President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech the other day, but I watched it anyway. It’s always inspiring to watch him giving speeches. Plus, a tweet in my Twitter timeline wondered what Obama would say about climate change. He gave an impressive opening, but the speech got more interesting when he mentioned about climate change. A very firm message, I must say.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it,” Obama made strong remarks on the subject.
US media and the American people have urged their president to put more action on clean energy policy rather than just rhetorical promises.
When Obama took presidency in 2009 as the 44th President of the United States, there were hopeful voices from around the world. Almost all countries were so prepped up to face the 2009 UN Climate Change Conferences in Copenhagen, Denmark, which aimed to have a new binding agreement on curbing greenhouse has emissions, replacing the Kyoto Protocol.
As a powerful nation, also a major emitter country, America’s position was quite crucial in the negotiations to cut more greenhouse gas emissions. It was the largest and packed conference ever. However, the conference was that satisfying, results-wise. The Copenhagen Accord was blasted by many countries, especially the developing and least-developed countries, who were enraged for being excluded in the process.
In Indonesia, the subject of climate change has always been considered as an “up in the sky” issue. It has not reached its popularity before the 2007 Climate Change Conference in Bali and when president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, during a G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, US, in 2009, announced to voluntarily cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions up to 26 percent by 2020.
Yudhoyono’s ambition was heavily praised by other countries but strongly criticized at home. The intention, according to Yudhoyono, was to force major countries, especially the US, to step up the negotiation by agreeing to reveal its emission cut numbers on the table, rather than just acknowledging that the world is indeed in extreme condition and the earth needs help.
On his first inaugural address in 2009, Obama did not specifically mention the climate change issue or sustainable energy. He instead just acknowledged “a warming planet.”
I was thrilled when Obama touched on the subject as it would lift up the political stance in the US. Hence, it could inspire other countries, including Indonesia, to speed up their efforts.
Indonesia is trying its best to tackle climate change issues, whether we know it or not, from forest conservation, deforestation moratorium, movements to plant more trees to campaigns to shift to a cleaner energy. Indonesia, however, is still in a very slow pace. Notable problems include ego-sectoral barriers from institutions involved. Such troubles could be overcame if the “big boss” has a strong commitment on fighting the issue.
With Obama already announced his stance, Indonesia should also move faster and regain its leadership in climate change. It is no longer the time to sit on hotel ballrooms and discuss the effects of climate change or waste time drafting regulations. Let’s get real, these days the sun is getting hotter in dry season and the rain is heavier in rainy season.