This is taken from the latest summary from Carbon Brief.
Back in June 2013, Barack Obama first signalled that he intended to make tackling climate change one of his key legacy issues. Under the brutal summer heat at Georgetown University, journalists were quick to note the beads of sweat on the president’s head as they listened to his first major speech on climate change. Obama was fully aware of the optics of making such a speech outdoors, with his shirt sleeves rolled up and pausing to mop perspiration from his brow.
“I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” he told the audience of students.
Fast forward two years and Obama was back this week making much the same point in an equally visually memorable way. Addressing an Arctic conference in Alaska, he said: “If we do nothing to keep the glaciers from melting faster…we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.” The next day, armed with a selfie stick, the US president was hiking under the Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park, which, according to Associated Press, is said to be retreating “43 feet per year”.
Predictably, the media lapped up the story. The Guardian noted how “shrinking Alaskan glaciers served as a vivid backdrop for Barack Obama’s latest push for action on climate change”. Reuters said that with 16 months left of his presidency, Obama was using the Arctic trip “to build support for tough new rules on carbon emissions from power plants ahead of a hoped-for international climate deal at a UN summit in Paris in December that could cement his legacy on the issue”. The BBC said Obama had “pleaded” for world leaders to agree to cut carbon emissions at crucial talks in Paris later this year. NBC‘s ear tuned into the “unusually blunt language” he used in his speech. And Politico said climate change was now shaping up to be Obama’s “Yes, We Can” issue.
But not everyone was impressed. Slate said some climate activists had labelled the president a “hypocrite”: “Barely two weeks ago, his administration gave Royal Dutch Shell final approval to drill for oil offshore Alaska’s northwest Arctic coast — not exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from someone who professes to be ‘leading by example'”. Bill McKibben, the veteran climate campaigner, added: “It’s such an odd own goal to first hand Shell a shovel and then go for a visit.”