Taking the Lead on Climate Change for the First Time

Today, I joined the President on his trip to the United Nations Climate Change Summit, where President Obama called on leaders from around the world to come together in pursuing policies that allow economies to grow without endangering out planet.  The President delivered a message of international unity because no nation – regardless of size or wealth – can escape the impacts of climate change.  As President Obama said today, rising sea levels threaten every coastline; threats like more powerful storms and floods, more frequent droughts and hunger are challenges that know no borders. 
It was an honor to join President Obama today at this historic UN Summit.  And it was inspiring to see the many faces of the United Nations joined together to tackle this challenge.
President Barack Obama addresses the Climate Change Summit at the UN General Assembly in New York, New York(President Barack Obama addresses the Climate Change Summit at the UN General Assembly in New York, New York on Tuesday September 22, 2009.   Official White House photo by Samantha Appleton)
The time we have to reverse this tide is running out.  But I am confident that we can reverse it.
And no administration in the history of the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in eight months than this one.  From making the largest-ever investment in renewable energy to investing billions to cut energy waste, and proposing for the first time ever a new national standard aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks.  And most importantly, the House of Representatives passed an energy and climate bill in June that would finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy for American businesses and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  We are looking forward to engaging with the Senate as they craft their legislation.
Still, despite bold action from many of the nations seated before the UN, we know that much work remains to be done.  And the President highlighted this point in his speech when he said, "We came [to the UN] because there’s so much more progress to be made."  And there is progress to be made on all sides.  Both developed nations that have caused much of the damage to our climate over the last century and developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their parts.
As we continue down this path of progress, we know we must also energize our efforts to put other developing nations – especially the poorest and most vulnerable – on a path to sustainable growth. Today the United States sat among these countries and pledged our to live up to our responsibility to provide the financial and technical assistance needed to help these nations adapt to the impacts of climate change and pursue low-carbon development. Today we called on all nations to not simply seek an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, but to seek an agreement that will allow all nations to grow and raise living standards without endangering our planet.
This great challenge has come to the fore among all nations of the world today – and from the floor of the UN General Assembly, for the first time, it was the United Stands that stood up to take the lead. 
Carol Browner is Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
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