If you suddenly came face to face with President Barack Obama, what would you say?
Gillian Caldwell found herself in that position last week when she encountered the President on a rope-line. Caldwell – the leader of the climate-action group 1Sky – decided to debate the President over his position on coal.
As she shook President Obama’s hand, Caldwell appealed to him to stop supporting federal investments in “clean coal” and to put the money instead into renewable energy. To his credit, President Obama stopped long enough to engage. Here are excerpts of their exchange (see the video and full transcript):
Caldwell: It’s got to be renewable energy. No more clean coal. It’s a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.
President Obama: I disagree with you…We are not going to get all our energy from wind and solar in the next 20 years.
Caldwell: Let the market do it…Can’t the market make the investment?
President Obama: They can’t do it. The technology’s not there. I’ve got a nuclear physicist in my Department of Energy who cares more about climate change than anyone and he will tell you you can’t get it done just with that – so you’ve got to have a transition period to do all this other stuff. Don’t be stubborn about it…If I could do it all with wind and solar, I would! We can ramp it up. That’s what we’re working on. Continued...