Outgoing US president warns action is needed on climate change

President Obama emphasised the importance of science in policymaking during his farewell address to the US on 10 January, apparently offering advice to president-elect Donald Trump. In a healthy political debate different goals and means of reaching them are prioritised, Obama said. ‘But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other, and we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible,’ he warned.

The president went on to stress the need to address climate change. ‘In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, we’ve doubled our renewable energy, and we’ve led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet,’ Obama stated, referencing the Paris agreement that has been publicly eschewed by Trump, who will be inaugurated on 20 January.

Without bolder action to combat global warming, Obama cautioned, today’s children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change as they deal with its effects, like environmental disasters, economic disruption and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. Trump has often questioned the reality of climate change, and he intends to nominate several people who dismiss the science of global warming to senior positions in his administration.