One aspect of the speech that is destined to generate a great deal of attention and consternation among opponents of climate action is that the president revealed he would direct the State Department to reject approval for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline if it were shown to cause a "significant" increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The pipeline, which, if constructed, would carry oil from Alberta's Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico, has become a particular target of environmentalists.
Among supporters of action on climate change, responses ranged from muted to enthusiastic.
In a statement, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), called the plan "a necessary next step to meet an immediate, worrying shortfall in action to deal with climate change (that) can be a critical move forward on the path towards a new, global climate agreement."
Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace, while acknowledging that "95 percent of the plan isn't new," told Discovery News that "this was as much as they could do given the immense pressure of the dirty coal industry and the inaction of Congress." In fact, he said, it was probably "the most complete speech on climate change I've ever heard" from a public official. "It was more than we expected, and the Keystone element was icing on the cake."