President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Feb. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

We’ve written before about the Obama administration’s rhetoric on climate change. Last month, in his inaugural address, Obama pledged to address climate change, saying “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Last night, in his State of the Union Address, the president renewed that commitment, but he also provided us with a glimpse of what that “more” might be.

The president proposed an energy security trust, to be funded by revenues from oil and gas on public lands, which would work to wean us off our dependence on fossil fuels through research and development of renewable energy technology. In urging Congress to work together on a solution to climate change, he also invoked the example of the bipartisan Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, a collaboration of Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Ten years ago, that bill was rejected 43 to 55, but Obama implied that now is the right time for a similar bill.

But Congress is not the only branch of government that can take action. A month ago, we joined 69 other organizations in urging the president to use his executive authority to reduce carbon pollution. Last night, Obama responded, saying that “if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”

These proposals and declarations of commitment are welcome news here at American Forests, where we’ve planted more than 43 million trees around the world as part of our commitment to mitigating climate change. As Obama said, “We were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent to make what difference we can.” At American Forests, we’ll keep trying to make what difference we can, too.