Today's joint announcement by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to reduce their nations' carbon emissions is a major step forward in the global effort to solve the climate crisis. Much more will be required - including a global agreement from all nations - but these actions demonstrate a serious commitment by the top two global polluters.
President Xi Jinping's announcement that Chinese emissions will peak around 2030 is a signal of groundbreaking progress from the world’s largest polluter. President Obama's commitment to reduce US emissions despite legislative obstruction is a continuation of his strong leadership on the issue.
By demonstrating their willingness to work together, the leaders of the United States and China are opening a new chapter in global climate negotiations. This bold leadership comes at a critical time for our planet when the costs of carbon pollution affect our lives more and more each day.
The decision to repeal Australia's nationwide price on carbon is, as I said last month, a disappointing step for a country that continues to experience the worsening consequences of the climate crisis. Australia has been a longtime world leader in the effort to halt global warming. By repealing its carbon price, Australia is falling behind other major industrialized nations in the growing global effort to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a clean and prosperous future.
I'm hopeful that ongoing support for climate action soon leads to a comprehensive emissions trading scheme, and I'm encouraged by the continued support for the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and the Climate Change Authority. These programs are examples of Australia’s long and continued excellence in combating the climate crisis, and must continue.
John Seigenthaler has been a cherished friend and trusted mentor since he hired me to work for him in 1971 at the then "Nashville Tennessean."
When I returned to Tennessee from Vietnam, I had no idea what I was going to do for employment, so I was excited and grateful when he offered me a job. He quickly became an important mentor to me. He had a passion for seeking the truth that pulled him and everyone working for him in an extremely powerful way toward the core truths about whatever subject was under investigation or being reported
Five years later, on a Friday afternoon, February 29, 1976, he called on the telephone while I was dropping my law school books off at home and preparing to drive to work at the newspaper. “We’ve got a story for Monday morning’s paper," he began. "Joe L. Evins (who had represented my home Congressional District, including Carthage, for 30 years) is announcing his retirement." After a pause, he added, "I thought you'd want to know about that, and for what it's worth, I think you ought to run."
That call changed my life. Three days later, because of the heads up from John, I announced my campaign for Congress from the steps of the Smith County Courthouse. But it wasn’t only that call and timely encouragement that changed my life. When I started working at the newspaper, I was totally disillusioned with politics because of my father’s defeat a year earlier and because of the deception and criminality of the Nixon Administration.
During the years I worked for him, John taught me to see politics and public service through a completely different lens. Some of the things that had earlier caused me to feel disillusioned began to appear in my mind as things that needed to be exposed and fixed. It was because of John Seigenthaler that I really came back to thinking that maybe I had some contribution to make in that field.
In all the years since, I have frequently turned to John for advice and counsel. And I found, as did so many others he mentored and inspired, that his wisdom, character and insight were always unique and invaluable. He commanded respect from all who knew him because of his integrity and character and because he was always a force for good in everything he did. Our state and our nation have lost a true giant.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of a great Tennessean and valued friend, Senator Howard Baker. Throughout his years of service to our state and nation, Senator Baker distinguished himself as a leader of rare caliber. Highly respected by both sides of the aisle, he was a voice of reason, especially in some of our country's darkest hours.
I had the honor of serving with Senator Baker when I was in the U. S. House of Representatives and then, when he chose not to run for re-election, succeeding him in the U. S. Senate. I was also proud to serve on the board of the Baker Center at the University of Tennessee. The Center continues to reflect its namesake, as an institution of the highest political, ethical and moral values.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Senator Baker. All Americans will remember him as a great man and a great champion of our democracy.
Today's announcement by the Obama administration to reduce our nation's global warming pollution from power plants is the most important step taken to combat the climate crisis in our country’s history.
We simply cannot continue to use the atmosphere as an open sewer for dirty and dangerous global warming pollution that endangers our health and makes storms, floods, mudslides and droughts much more dangerous and threatening – not only in the future, but here and now. As with the connection between tobacco and lung cancer, special interests have vehemently denied the linkage between carbon emissions and the climate crisis. But the reality of global warming is now much more apparent and many more people are beginning to demand action. These same special interests now recognize that change is inevitable, but continue to trot out misleading and false claims to spread confusion and delay action for as long as they can. However, it is now clear that further inaction would be extremely dangerous and destructive for America and the rest of the world.
Fortunately, because of the innovation and hard work of America’s businesses, scientists and engineers, we now have clean energy solutions that are way more efficient, economically competitive and more widely available than ever before. Solar and wind power are already cheaper than the old dirty sources of energy in many areas, and are getting cheaper every year – the same way cellphones and computers did.
Following years of stronger and more frequent storms, unprecedented flooding and killer mudslides, widespread drought and spreading wildfires – not to mention record-breaking heat waves, the need for bold action is obvious and urgent. President Obama has taken hold of the challenges we face through a series of critical actions, empowering the EPA to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for new power plants, accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and enforcing bold new standards for fuel economy, while continuing to raise awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis and reestablish American leadership on the global stage.
Solving the climate crisis will no doubt be difficult, but - thanks to this action by President Obama and many others - we are now in a position to put ourselves on the path to a sustainable future.
Today marks the passing of Maya Angelou, whose passionate and timeless voice for empathy, passion and humanity touched millions. Throughout her life, Dr. Angelou eloquently presented a powerful and unique expression of what we can become and what we must leave behind.
I had the pleasure and honor of calling Dr. Angelou a longtime friend. While our paths crossed many times, our trip to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 was especially important to me. The event marked a transition for South Africa that had been proven possible in the United States just decades before, in part due to Dr. Angelou’s powerful words. As Madiba spoke, he recited Dr. Angelou’s poem, "Still I Rise."
One verse in particular stays with me to this day:
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
These indelible words define a woman of extraordinary power and courage. She will be sorely missed and never forgotten.
The latest National Climate Assessment provides clear evidence of what many Americans are already experiencing in their daily lives: the growing impact of extreme weather events linked to global warming.
When Pensacola, Florida, gets two feet of rain in 26 hours, that is exactly the kind of extreme and destructive event that scientists have long warned will become way more common.
From stronger and more frequent storms that take lives and damage infrastructure, to deeper droughts and heat waves that hurt agriculture and threaten water supplies, to rising seas that threaten our coastal cities -- the way Miami Beach is ALREADY threatened -- the costs of carbon are growing rapidly.
The good news is that we now have the technologies and alternatives we need to really solve the climate crisis -- but we must start acting now.
More and more businesses and governments around the world understand this and have started working to stop recklessly dumping global warming pollution into the atmosphere, as if it is an open sewer. And under the leadership of President Obama, the United States has also now finally begun to make important changes to our energy infrastructure and start reducing emissions of pollution—but we can and must do more. It’s time for Congress to step up and enact legislation to make it easier to shift to a more efficient and competitive -- and job rich -- renewable, low carbon economy.
We have no time to waste. We must end our addiction to dirty fossil fuels and transition to clean, renewable energy in order to ensure a prosperous and sustainable future.
Today, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chance released the final portion of their Fifth Assessment Report. Their conclusion is clear: we have all the tools we need to solve the climate crisis, but we must act quickly and decisively to stave off climatic disaster.
Solving this crisis will require cooperation, and bold action from all sectors—businesses must adopt a more sustainable form of capitalism, governments must regulate emissions and adopt a price on carbon in markets, and people must use their voting power to put a price on climate denial in politics in order to ensure that their nations -- and global civilization -- move toward a sustainable future.
The new report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the world's preeminent group of climate scientists—represents even more definitive evidence of the growing urgency to immediately reduce the spewing of global warming pollution. The atmosphere can no longer be used as an open sewer. The costs of carbon pollution are clear: decreasing crop yields, more destructive storms, the spreading of tropical diseases to temperate latitudes, rising seas, more climate refugees, failures of governance, increasing floods, deepening droughts, more destructive fires and heat waves -- all contributing to the new reality of the global climate crisis. Put together, these factors are already affecting the lives of millions around the world by driving them from their homes, disrupting their livelihoods, and in some cases, further straining destabilized regions.
The consensus is clear. We need an immediate and determined shift to a clean, renewable economy. The continued mass burning of fossil fuels is inconsistent with a healthy, prosperous future for our civilization.
I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Gail Kerr. As a journalist, Gail's intuition was unsurpassed. She possessed an uncanny ability to dig into a story, understand its context and deliver articles that cut through the daily conversation and brought important issues to light.
I have many fond memories of Gail during the 1992 & 1996 campaigns. National campaigns are exhausting endeavors. You're always on the move and it’s easy to feel separated from your hometown. Between pointed questions, Gail and I would often discuss the latest from Nashville. Her insights and anecdotes helped me feel connected to home, even when I was thousands of miles away.