January 7, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on your reelection.

Thank you for raising the threat of climate change during your speech in Chicago on November 7th. As you said during the campaign, “Climate change is not a hoax. More drought and floods and hurricanes and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And we can do something about it.”

We couldn’t agree more. Climate change threatens the health of our families, our communities and our planet. It is the great challenge of our time and our response will leave an historic legacy.

We urge you to continue underscoring the threat of climate change with the American people and to build on the historic vehicle standards and other progress you made during your first term by taking three decisive steps to curb dangerous carbon pollution:

  • Raise your voice. Elevate the issue of climate disruption and climate solutions in the public discourse. Connect the dots between carbon pollution and extreme weather, and lead the public discussion of what we need to do as a nation to both prepare for the changes in climate that are no longer avoidable and avoid changes in climate that are unacceptable.
  • Use your executive authority. You have the authority under existing law to achieve urgently needed reductions in the carbon pollution that is disrupting our climate and damaging our health. Most significantly, you can set standards that cut carbon pollution from America’s aging power plant fleet at least 25 percent by 2020 while boosting energy efficiency and shifting to clean energy sources. Power plants are our largest source of carbon pollution and you have the authority and responsibility to clean them up under the Clean Air Act. This will create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs, meet the pollution targets you set for the country, and restore U.S. international leadership.
  • Reject dirty fuels. We should not pursue dirty fuels like tar sands when climate science tells us that 80 percent of existing fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground. More specifically, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest because it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we can’t afford to burn, extend our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, endanger health and safety, and put critical water resources at risk.

Hurricane Sandy made it tragically clear that many communities are extremely vulnerable to climate change. We can and we must build back better—with investment in sustainable infrastructure, not the kind of carbon-intensive development that helped drive this problem in the first place.

Cutting carbon pollution at home and rejecting dirty fuels will establish America’s leadership and credibility, enabling you to create clean energy jobs in the United States while forging an effective international coalition to cut global carbon pollution. We urge you to elevate climate solutions to the top tier of your domestic agenda and America’s bilateral and global diplomatic priorities.

We pledge to work with you every step of the way to secure a healthy future.

Mr. President, you have the power and the support you need to tackle the climate crisis. Your leadership can establish a new American legacy we can all be proud of.

Sincerely,

Bill McKibben President 350.org
Mary Fifield Co-Chair Amazon Partnerships Foundation
Scott Steen CEO American Forests
Wm. Robert Irvin President American Rivers
Mildred Real CEO American Verde
Patricia Dudley President Bethel Heights Vineyard
Angus Duncan President Bonneville Environmental Foundation
Chair Oregon Global Warming Commission
Mindy S. Lubber President & CEO Ceres
Robert Wendelgass President Clean Water Action
Ellen Ingmells Co-Director Climate Justice League
Gregg Small Executive Director Climate Solutions
Jamie Rappaport Clark President & CEO Defenders of Wildlife
Stuart Liebowitz Convener Douglas County Global Warming Coalition
Kathleen Rogers President Earth Day Network
Trip Van Noppen President Earthjustice
Tom Athanasiou Executive Director EcoEquity, USA
Maura Cowley Executive Director Energy Action Coalition
Margie Alt Executive Director Environment America
Carol Werner Executive Director Environmental & Energy Study Institute
Fred Krupp President Environmental Defense Fund
Michael Noble Executive Director Fresh Energy
Erich Pica President Friends of the Earth U.S.
Bob Dingethal Executive Director Gifford Pinchot Task Force
Mike Clark Executive Director Greater Yellowstone Coalition
Phil Radford Executive Director Greenpeace
Gary Cohen Executive Director Healthcare Without Harm
Kimberly Baker Forest & Wildlife Advocate Klamath Forest Alliance
Stephanie Tidwell Executive Director Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center
Tom Kelly Director KyotoUSA
Joe Uehlein President Labor Network for Sustainability
Gene Kapinski President League of Conservation Voters
Elisabeth MacNamara President League of Women Voters
Rob Garrity Executive Director Massachusetts Climate Action Network
David Yarnold President & CEO National Audubon Society
Ai-jen Poo Director National Domestic Workers Alliance
Thomas C. Kiernan President National Parks Conservation Association
Kesner Flores Executive Director National Tribal Environmental Council
Larry Schweiger CEO National Wildlife Federation
John Echohawk Executive Director Native American Rights Fund
Frances Beinecke President Natural Resources Defense Council
Sara Patton Executive Director Northwest Energy Coalition
Andrew Sharpless Chief Executive Officer Oceana
Steve Kretzmann Executive Director Oil Change International
Andrea Durbin Executive Director Oregon Environmental Council
Kathleen Newman Co-Chair Oregonians for Renewable Energy Policy
George Jugovic Jr. President & CEO PennFuture
Catherine Thomasson, MD Executive Director Physicians for Social Responsibility
Tom Bowerman Project Manager PolicyInteractive
John Seager President Population Connection
Chris Steinkamp Executive Director Protect Our Winters
Sarah Egger President Puget Sound Students for a Sustainable Campus
Amanda Starbuck Energy Finance Program Director Rainforest Action Network
Dan Becker Director Safe Climate Campaign
Michael Brune Executive Director Sierra Club
Dr. Stephen A. Smith Executive Director Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Fahim Ferdous Promi PR Agent Take Back the Tap, Rutgers
Maggie L. Fox President & CEO The Climate Reality Project
Bob Doppelt Executive Director The Resource Innovation Group
Will Rogers President & CEO The Trust for Public Land
Jamie Williams President The Wilderness Society
Peter Bahouth Executive Director US Climate Action Network
Roberto Carmona Advisory Board Member Voces Verdes
Peggy Shepard Executive Director We Act for Environmental Justice
Patrick Sweeney Director Western Organization of Resource Councils
Ruth Musgrave President Wildlife Policy Consulting
Nicole Rom Executive Director Will Steger Foundation
Osprey Orielle Lake Founder & President Women’s Earth & Climate Caucus
Cate Owren Executive Director Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO)
Daniel Cantor Executive Director Working Families Party