In this 15-minute discussion (audio, podcast, and transcript) on President Obama's climate speech (also posted here), Living On Earth's Steve Curwood speaks with David Hawkins of the Natural Resources Defense Council, with additional discussions with Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, and Jess Grady-Benson, "a rising senior at Pitzer College working for the fossil fuel divestment campaign". Curwood asks her to grade the speech.
I have to say I’m a pretty tough grader. I think that he made a lot of very important points, but I have to say, for our national climate movement, for the global climate movement, there’s so much more to be done. So I would have to give him about a C or C-.
Hawkins isn't as tough. "The grade for this speech, I would say is an A. Whether the final grade for the course turns out to be an A or an A+ or a B or lower will depend on what is done to follow up in the next three and a half years before he leaves office."
Another area of disagreement was about the role of natural gas in the plan. Hawkins explains that "natural gas is very much a double-edged sword. It will beat out dirty coal, but it will also beat out renewables." Brune doesn't see it that way.
That was the one misstep in the President’s plan. The most significant one. We think natural gas is not a bridge fuel but more a gangplank to a destabilized climate.
Finally, the president's Keystone surprise, in his words:
Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.
We still don' know if that means he will approve the controversial pipeline or not.