President Barack Obama dedicated a substantial portion of his interview with VICE News founder Shane Smith to climate change — and commented on how Republicans are motivated to oppose anything he may propose.
“Right now, on a lot of the issues that young people care about, it’s not both sides arguing and creating gridlock. You’ve got one side that is denying the facts, who are often motivated, principally, by opposing whatever it is that I propose,” Obama said in the video interview (below). “That’s not inevitable to our democracy. That’s a phase that the Republican party is going through right now. And it’ll outgrow that phase.”
Climate Progress reports that more than one-half of Congressional Republicans question or deny the science associated with human-caused climate change, according to research conducted by the CAP Action Fund.
Obama views climate change as one of the hardest problems to solve, and warns there is eventually a “point of no return.”
“You have to make sure that you get at this thing quick enough and with enough force to be able to make a difference,” Obama said.
Obama added that climate change is a difficult problem to approach because it requires sacrifices to be made immediately to create a long-term payoff.
Obama said he wants the country to see climate change as an immediate and serious problem.
The president touched upon public reluctance, as he admitted he could not fault someone who was worried about paying their bills or buying gasoline to drive to work.
The resistance in Congress can be attributed to the influence oil and gas industries have over certain elected officials, Obama noted.
“In some cases … you have elected officials who are shills for the oil companies or the fossil fuel industry, and there’s a lot of money involved,” Obama said. “Typically in Congress, the committees of jurisdiction, like the energy committees, are populated by folks from places that pump a lot of oil and pump a lot of gas.”
Obama has hope that the younger generation — using his own children as a reference — which he finds to be more environmentally conscious, will exert its influence over Congress, forcing the Republican party to change its stance on climate change.
“Here’s what keeps me optimistic. You talk to Malia and Sasha, (who are) 13 and 16, and the sophistication and awareness that they have about environmental issues … they’re way ahead of the game,” Obama said. “I guarantee you that the Republican party will have to change its approach to climate change, because voters will insist upon it.”
Obama said he is still far from completing his personal climate agenda, referring to goals like doubling the domestic production of clean energy, and succeeding in gaining commitments from China to curb its greenhouse gas emissions.
“If I’m able to do all those things now, when I’m done, we’re still going to have a heck of a problem,” Obama said, “but we will have made enough progress that the next president and the next generations can start building on it, and you start getting some momentum.”
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