President Barack Obama on Tuesday pledged to fight on for a climate change bill, despite the collapse of US Senate legislation designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Obama, after talks with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, said a watered down energy bill soon to come before lawmakers, shorn of climate change action, was just a first step.
“That legislation is an important step in the right direction,” said Obama, of a bill which focuses on the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and developing alternative energy projects.
“But I want to emphasize it’s only the first step and I intend to keep pushing for broader reform, including climate legislation.”
Obama said the Gulf oil spill had shown that current US energy policy was “unsustainable,” adding the United States could not stand by and let China create the clean energy jobs of the future.
“We should be developing those renewable energy resources and creating those high-wage, high-skill jobs right here in the United States of America.
“That’s what comprehensive energy and climate reform would do, and that’s why I intend to keep pushing this issue forward.”
Obama’s Democratic allies last week acknowledged they lacked votes to approve the first-ever US plan restricting carbon emissions blamed for global warming and shelved the legislation.
With Republicans hoping for big gains in November’s congressional polls, the move may mean the end of carbon capping legislation for the forseeable future, dealing a blow to the global effort to battle warming.
The president also called on Republicans to drop their policy of blanket opposition to his agenda by backing a bill that would offer incentives for small businesses to create jobs.
“We shouldn’t let America’s small businesses be held hostage to partisan politics, and certainly not at this critical time.”
Obama, who will this week step up his political campaigning ahead of mid-term elections in November, warned lawmakers should ignore “chatter” about politics and polls and honor their commitments to voters.
“The folks we serve … they sent us here for a reason. They sent us here to listen to their voices, they sent us here to represent their interests, not our own.”