Obama promises renewed effort to combat climate change

March 9, 2010 file photo shows a tanker truck passing the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, Calif. On Weds., Nov. 14, 2012, Californiaâ??s largest greenhouse gas emitters will for the first time begin buying permits in a landmark â??cap-and-tradeâ?? system meant to control emissions of heat-trapping gases and spur investment in clean technologies. The program is a key part of Californiaâ??s 2006 climate-change law, AB32, a suite of regulations that dictate standards for cleaner-burning fuels, more efficient automobiles and increased use of renewable energy.
File,AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

With debates over immigration reform, gun control, and deficit reduction still simmering, President Obama will add another initiative to his growing second-term agenda on Tuesday, when he unveils a "national plan" to combat the effects of climate change, according to a video posted Saturday on the White House website.

"In my inaugural address, I pledged that America would respond to the growing threat of climate change for the sake of our children and future generations," Mr. Obama said in the video. "This Tuesday, at Georgetown University, I'll lay out my vision for where I believe we need to go - a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change and lead global efforts to fight it."

"This is a serious challenge, but it's one uniquely suited to America's strengths," he added. "We'll need scientists to design new fuels and farmers to grow them. We'll need engineers to devise new sources of energy and businesses to make and sell them. We'll need workers to build the foundation for a clean-energy economy, and we'll need all of our citizens to do our part to preserve God's creation for future generations."

Since he took office in 2009, the president has consistently stressed the need for America to reduce carbon emissions to stave off the effects of climate change, but his administration has achieved only limited success in converting that ambition into action.

In 2011, the administration announced strict new vehicle-fuel-efficiency standards that would require the U.S. auto fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, a move that was praised by environmentalists. It has also overseen the implementation of heavy subsidies for green-energy industries like solar and wind power. And, perhaps previewing what Mr. Obama will announce on Tuesday, the administration has signaled that it will move to restrict emissions on electric power plants, which are the largest single contributor to America's greenhouse gas emissions.

But the initial centerpiece of the president's green energy agenda, a cap-and-trade system that would have imposed a price on carbon emissions, was defeated in Congress in 2009 after it passed the House but failed to clear the Senate.

The president, in spite of any setbacks, has continued to sound the alarm on climate change, most recently calling it the "global threat of our time" during a speech in Berlin earlier this month.

"For the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late," he said. "That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work."

He echoed that determination in Saturday's video. "There's no single step that can reverse the effects of climate change, but when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can," he said. "... This is a challenge that affects everyone, and we all have a stake in solving it together.