World Resources Institute CEO Dr. Andrew Steer outlined six issues to watch in 2013: the future of energy resources, China’s and Africa’s progress, deforestation, green financial investments and action from Obama.
Although Obama took positive action in his first term as president, the United States does not yet have a climate change strategy, he said.A Pew Research Center survey concluded percent of Americans believe global warming has steadily risen over the past few years.
But the issue didn’t get any serious attention in the presidential debates, Steer noted.
“How much more is required before citizens start saying, ‘Hey wait a minute. We have to change the way we do business?’” Steer asked.
He advocated that the administration should not only ensure the U.S. achieves its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020, but set a more ambitious goal for further in the future. Steer also said a key component to convincing Obama and Congress to take action is communicating the reality of climate change costs, like estimates of 3.3 million deaths per year globally from air pollution and 13 million hectares of forest lost each year.
Steer said President Obama has promised to start a conversation on climate change, but an important indicator will be whether he shows political leadership and takes action on climate change issues.
WRI Director of the Climate and Energy Program Jennifer Morgan added that environmentalists should watch to see whether Obama “engages and uses the bully pulpit to engage America and the impacts that are already occurring in this country, the costs of those impacts and the solutions and the opportunities to keep peace.”