What we talked about with the White House is using it as catalyst not just for the development of a national strategy but for mobilising people all over the country at every level," said Bob Doppelt, executive director of the Resource Innovation Group, the Oregon-based thinktank that has been pushing for the high-level meeting. He said it would not be a one-off event.After an election campaign in which the major party candidates avoided even mentioning climate change despite a flood of new data and studies showing that the process is well under way and accelerating—already outracing the timing of outcomes predicted by scientists just a few years ago—it would certainly be encouraging to hear that the administration is thinking of coming up with an action plan in the matter.
"What I think has excited the White House is that it does put the president in a leadership role, but it is not aimed at what Congress can do, or what he can do per se, so much as it is aimed at apprising the American public about how they can act." [...]
Jeremy Symons, senior vice-president for conservation and education at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), said Obama needed to give a clear indication early on of what he intended to do on climate change – ideally before the State of the Union address when presidents typically outline their agenda.
While Obama has done more to boost clean and green energy, including conservation, than any president since Jimmy Carter three-and-a-half decades ago, he has also backed an all-of-the-above approach that has boosted oil production and coal exports. The Department of Interior has approved huge swaths of off-shore land for oil-drilling leases, including in Arctic waters made recently accessible by the accelerated melting of summer ice, a speeded-up melting that is due to burning fossil fuels.
Most observers expect the president to approve the 1,179-mile northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska sometime in March or April. While that is an important issue for many environmentalists, First Nations people and land-owners along the proposed route, as climate change matters go, it's only a small piece of the big picture.
What exactly might be included in a national strategy that focuses on the big picture is far from obvious, although environmental advocates have plenty of ideas. Opposition to environmental regulations in Congress remains strong, even among members who aren't part of the wacked-out brigade of representatives and senators who continue to claim that global warming is a hoax out of scientific illiteracy or because they're well-greased puppets of the Koch brothers and other fossil-fuel interests. Knocking down the obstacles they put up presents a big problem.
Action on climate change is desperately needed. Delay is denial. And talk, as they say, is cheap. But at least a White House summit would put climate change on the table for national discussion. That alone would be a big improvement.
A Siegel has a post on the subject here.