Obama to spotlight climate legacy in final State of Union

CRIB NOTES 11-17 Jan: US president looks forward not back; Trump slams EU plane fine, Snow business in Swiss ski industry

(White House photo/Pete Souza)

Obama acknowledges applause before he delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015 (White House photo/Pete Souza)

By Alex Pashley

Barack Obama’s anticipated State of the Union speech on Tuesday will be no victory lap, but set out an optimistic vision of the country’s future, according to White House officials.

The two-term president will use his last nationally televised platform to urge the country to “follow through with his preferred approach of diplomacy and multilateralism” to solving global problems, CNN reports.

The Paris climate agreement, enabled in part by Obama’s strident leadership, will be one example used to illustrate that call.

“He will talk about who we are as Americans and focus on some consistent themes of his presidency—a country that adapts to challenges, that creates things, that believes that change and progress are possible,” an aide told Politico.

Tune in from 9pm Eastern time. Last year was his second shortest, clocking in at 59 minutes 57 seconds.

Solar panel entrepreneur guest of honour 

Mark Davis, a Washington DC businessman who helps low-income residents find ways to place solar panels on their homes, will join first lady Michelle Obama in the president’s guest box, Huffington Post reports.

Invitees are often symbolic. This year a Syrian refugee will attend; while one chair will remain empty to commemorate victims of gun shootings.


Trump slams Obama’s Air Force One footprint

The presidential hopeful branded POTUS a hypocrite at a rally in Iowa on Saturday, the Hill reports.

“Watch Obama talking about the carbon footprint, and then he flies over Hawaii in an old 747 with the old engines spewing the hell out of it,” he said. “And then he gives a speech about global warming and the carbon footprint.”

It comes as the brash mogul was fined $2,200 by the UK for not buying pollution permits on flights under the EU’s emissions trading scheme. “What a scam. What kind of a scam is this?’ And my plane is a good plane, and it’s efficient,” he fumed.

Though they won’t hike prices…

A £20 per tonne carbon tax on all fuels in the UK would lift prices at most 0.9%, if it is passed throughout supply chains, a Monday report by researchers at the London School of Economics claims.

It fights off criticisms carbon taxes disadvantage business against foreign competition. Industries worth just no more than 2% of British GDP would likely see rises in production costs, it reports.

Chinese artists build straw crabs to protest Shanghai air

Carbon cuts give US $2bn windfall 

A separate report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California says cutting greenhouse gas emissions made the US as a whole $2.2 billion better off in 2013.

Legislation known as state ‘renewable portfolio standards’ (RPS) slashing air pollution from burning coal, diesel and oil could have even saved as much as $5.2 bn , according to the Climate News Network. Less pollution meant health benefits, supported 200,000 clean energy jobs and cheaper bills for consumers.

Snow business in Swiss alps

The Swiss ski industry had been badly hit as unseasonably warm temperatures left many ski runs greener rather than white in December, the FT reports. Cable-car operators said business was 11% lower on a year earlier.

Resorts were forecasts for a heavy dumping of snow this weekend.

Still, climate change poses a long-term challenge, particularly since conventional snow making machines work only at temperatures below zero, and ideally colder than minus 4C.

This week:

11-15: CITES wildlife summit on elephant, rhino poaching, Geneva
16: Taiwan parliamentary and presidential election
16-17: International Renewable Energy Agency assembly, Abu Dhabi

Read more on: Climate politics