Back to News
|Good morning. It's an honor to for me
to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the
world. We come together here in Copenhagen because climate change
poses a grave and growing danger to our people. You would not be
here unless you – like me – were convinced that this danger is real.
This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will
pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our
planet. That much we know.
So the question before us is no longer the nature of the challenge –
the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of
climate change is not in doubt, our ability to take collective
action hangs in the balance.
I believe that we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of
this common threat. And that is why I have come here today.
As the world's largest economy and the world's second largest
emitter, America bears our share of responsibility in addressing
climate change, and we intend to meet that responsibility. That is
why we have renewed our leadership within international climate
negotiations, and worked with other nations to phase out fossil fuel
subsidies. And that is why we have taken bold action at home – by
making historic investments in renewable energy; by putting our
people to work increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings; and
by pursuing comprehensive legislation to transform to a clean energy
These actions are ambitious, and we are taking them not simply to
meet our global responsibilities. We are convinced that changing the
way that we produce and use energy is essential to America's
economic future – that it will create millions of new jobs, power
new industry, keep us competitive, and spark new innovation. And we
are convinced that changing the way we use energy is essential to
America's national security, because it will reduce our dependence
on foreign oil, and help us deal with some of the dangers posed by
So America is going to continue on this course of action no matter
what happens in Copenhagen. But we will all be stronger and safer
and more secure if we act together. That is why it is in our mutual
interest to achieve a global accord in which we agree to take
certain steps, and to hold each other accountable for our
After months of talk, and two weeks of negotiations, I believe that
the pieces of that accord are now clear.
First, all major economies must put forward decisive national
actions that will reduce their emissions, and begin to turn the
corner on climate change. I'm pleased that many of us have already
done so, and I'm confident that America will fulfill the commitments
that we have made: cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent
by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in line with final
Second, we must have a mechanism to review whether we are keeping
our commitments, and to exchange this information in a transparent
manner. These measures need not be intrusive, or infringe upon
sovereignty. They must, however, ensure that an accord is credible,
and that we are living up to our obligations. For without such
accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page.
Third, we must have financing that helps developing countries adapt,
particularly the least-developed and most vulnerable to climate
change. America will be a part of fast-start funding that will ramp
up to $10 billion in 2012. And, yesterday, Secretary Clinton made it
clear that we will engage in a global effort to mobilize $100
billion in financing by 2020, if – and only if – it is part of the
broader accord that I have just described.
Mitigation. Transparency. And financing. It is a clear formula – one
that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses
and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord
– one that takes us farther than we have ever gone before as an
The question is whether we will move forward together, or split
apart. This is not a perfect agreement, and no country would get
everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that
want aid with no strings attached, and who think that the most
advanced nations should pay a higher price. And there are those
advanced nations who think that developing countries cannot absorb
this assistance, or that the world's fastest-growing emitters should
bear a greater share of the burden.
We know the fault lines because we've been imprisoned by them for
years. But here is the bottom line: we can embrace this accord, take
a substantial step forward, and continue to refine it and build upon
its foundation. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room
will be a part of an historic endeavor – one that makes life better
for our children and grandchildren.
Or we can again choose delay, falling back into the same divisions
that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back
having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year –
all while the danger of climate change grows until it is
There is no time to waste. America has made our choice. We have
charted our course, we have made our commitments, and we will do
what we say. Now, I believe that it's time for the nations and
people of the world to come together behind a common purpose.
We must choose action over inaction; the future over the past – with
courage and faith, let us meet our responsibility to our people, and
to the future of our planet. Thank you.