During President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, he briefly touched upon his plans for combating climate change and reducing emissions, but didn’t go into any meaningful detail. However during the State of the Union address last night, the President was able to clearly lay out his agenda and draw attention to the issues that will matter most over the next 12 months. And when it came to climate change, he didn’t mince words.

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Given the economy and the gun control debate, there was plenty for the President to get through in his address, but the White House’s environmental policy did get a mention and it contained the strongest language yet used by a president.

Referencing the opposition that the President has faced in Congress, Obama vowed to act on climate change himself if Congress failed to enact any legislation to make sufficient progress.

“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change…,” the President said. “But if Congress won’t act sooner to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

The President also laid out his energy plan, which focused on more domestic oil production as well as an increase in renewable energy. “After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to control our own energy future,” the President added. “We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.” Unfortunately, he did not address the environmental impact of “fracking.”

President Obama also publicly acknowledged climate change, something that many of his peers have avoided in the past, referencing Hurricane Sandy and the nation-wide droughts.

“For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that super-storm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.”

Overall, it was an incredibly bold and aggressive strategy. Only the next four years will tell whether he can live up to his words.

Click here to read the full State of the Union.

+ The White House

Images: The White House