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Posted on on January 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (

Obama: Clean energy trend ‘irreversible’

BY TIMOTHY CAMA – 01/09/17 01:07 PM EST – THE HILL…

President Obama laid out his case Monday for why the worldwide movement toward clean energy is “irreversible” and can withstand any policy changes.

The opinion piece in the academic journal Science, complete with references end notes, serves in part as a celebration of Obama’s legacy on clean energy and climate change, and a call to action for future policymakers, including President-elect Donald Trump.

“The United States is showing that GHG [greenhouse gas] mitigation need not conflict with economic growth. Rather, it can boost efficiency, productivity, and innovation,” he wrote.

But the piece is also a reassurance to environmentalists and others that the business community also wants to fight climate change, and will continue to do so after he leaves office in less than two weeks.

“Businesses are coming to the conclusion that reducing emissions is not just good for the environment — it can also boost bottom lines, cut costs for consumers, and deliver returns for shareholders,” Obama wrote.

“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States.”

The Science piece comes amid growing pessimism among Democrats and environmentalists regarding Trump’s environmental policy.

Trump said on the campaign trail that he plans to quickly start undoing Obama’s climate change legacy, which was largely built on executive actions.

The president-elect has pledged to unleash an energy revolution, centered on fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Nonetheless, Obama prodded Trump in the piece, saying that “the latest science and economics provide a helpful guide for what the future may bring” in terms of energy policy.

This is not the first time Obama has been published in an academic journal. He wrote a piece on criminal justice last week in the Harvard Law Review, and in July, he wrote on healthcare reform in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the first time a sitting president wrote for an academic journal.


CLIMATE ENVOY HEADS TO HEWLETT FOUNDATION: Jonathan Pershing, Obama’s special envoy for climate change, is heading to the nonprofit world.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced Monday that Pershing will start next week as director of its environmental program.

“The past few years have brought tremendous gains in the global effort to mitigate climate change, and Jonathan has been a critical part of that,” Larry Kramer, the foundation’s president, said in a statement.

“That’s hardly surprising, as few people working on this all-important problem have his unique combination of experience, expertise, and vision. We are both delighted and fortunate that, in joining the Hewlett Foundation, Jonathan can continue his efforts, now by enhancing the role of civil society and philanthropy in protecting our planet and its inhabitants from the potentially devastating effects of global warming.”

Pershing took over last year as climate envoy and led the United States’ efforts in starting to implement the Paris agreement.

He has previously worked at the Department of Energy and the World Resources Institute, among other positions.

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