Obama on climate change: It's the economy, stupid

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as he unveils his plan on climate change June 25, 2013 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. President Obama laid out his plan to diminish carbon pollution and prepare the country for the impacts of climate change.

President Obama gave a speech on climate change today -- but he didn’t focus exclusively on the environment. Instead, he spent a lot of time talking about the economy.

It’s all part of a broader effort to change the nature of the economic conversation in the country. Right now, there’s a focus on short term recovery and jobs. But the president said he hopes to introduce climate change as a way to shift into a longer conversation that considers what a low-carbon economy could look like in 2050.

And according to his speech, the roadmap to get us there involves a lot of natural gas.  

“Coal is on the retreat right now and natural gas is incredibly abundant and very low cost,” said Dan Kammen, a professor at University of California, Berkeley. “So swapping coal out and natural gas in is strategic because it demonstrates that these transitions are possible.”

And from there we could transition into renewable energy sources. The President offered no specifics on how he would go about cutting carbon emissions.

Republicans are already calling it an energy tax. And it probably won’t be long before the coal companies do too -- their stocks took a big hit after the speech.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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