Activists get vocal over Obama and Romney ‘climate silence’

By Tierney Smith

US campaigners have accused President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney of ‘climate silence’ during their Presidential Election campaign.

The election fate is just over a month away, but many voters are apparently unaware of the two men’s stance on climate change.

The website, launched yesterday by NGOs Forecast the Facts and Friends of the Earth Action, aims to chart some of the public statements made by both candidates over the last five years on this issue, and put pressure on them to speak out.

It rates what they have said on climate change on a spectrum ranging from actions and promises on one end to avoidance and denial on the other. The two groups say that while Obama and Romney “sprinkle” their speeches with mention of climate change their failure to address the challenges head on have shown a a lack of seriousness on the issue.

The two candidates head to the poll of 6 November (Source: World Affairs Council of Philadelphia/Flickr and US White House)

“If you look at the site you will see that over the last four years, both Obama and Romney have said things about climate change,” Daniel Souweine, Campaign Director at Forecast the Facts told RTCC. “It is the case that over time it has happened less and less and they have moved further and further away from where they need to be in terms of talking about the extent of the problem or what they are trying to do about it.

“They both talk about it but not nearly as much as they should and not even as much as we have seen them in the past.”

The website’s climate tracker shows that over the past four years Obama has moved from strong and ambitious statements on climate change, to very few mentions of the issue during his current campaign for re-election.

Romney on the other hand has gone from accepting climate change exists to using it as the punchline in jokes, says Souweine.

The website tracks statements from the candidates from the last five years (Source:

Speaking at the Republican Convention last month, Mitt Romney mocked Obama’s previous comments of climate change saying: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet… My promise is to help you and your family.”

Obama responded to Romney’s jibe, telling the Democrat Convention : “Climate change is not a hoax.”

The election build-up is taking place against the backdrop of a country gripped by record breaking heat, drought, wildfires and storms. Scientists believe such events will be increasingly likely with climate change.

Souweine says the Climate Silence project aims to push candidates to take the issue more seriously.

“We have to put pressure on the candidates to [talk about climate change],” he said. “They are running for the most important job in the world and climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world.

“Not talk about climate change, the source of the problem, how serious it is or what they are going to do about it is really falling short of what their responsibility as the presidential candidates and ultimately as President of the United States.”

The League of Conservation Voters also launched a petition last month putting pressure on the moderator of the first live presidential debate, Jim Lehrer of PBS, to ask a question on climate change.

The first debate on 3 October focuses on domestic policies.

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