We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. . . We will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.
President Obama, Inaugural address, January 2013.
These stirring words gave hope to millions around the world who were despairing for the future of the planet. At last, a major international leader was taking a stand. But facing Congress a few weeks later, the president was more muted about the environment in his State of the Union address. A brief reference to combating climate change “for the sake of our children and our future” was tucked away in the middle of his speech, sandwiched between the need for energy self-sufficiency and curbing climate change using market-based solutions while “driving strong economic growth.”
Why had the lofty sentiments about the state of the planet dissipated in a matter of weeks? Was it the reality of dealing with a fractious legislature who opposes action on climate change? Was it the need to placate the business community and the fossil fuel lobby? Perhaps he was pandering to consumers who also happen to be voters.
In Canada, however, there were no stirring words about the state of the planet in the last Speech from the Throne in 2011. There was no ennobling vision for the future of our children and grandchildren. There was not even a reference to the dangers of climate change.