WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday that his administration has not done enough to combat global warming but said he hopes to begin his second term by opening a national "conversation" on climate change.
Obama said at a news conference that he took some steps in his first term to slow global warming, such as sharply increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.
"But we haven't done as much as we need to," Obama said in his second comments on global warming since winning re-election last week.
Climate change was virtually absent during the presidential campaign until Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. The devastating superstorm — a rarity for the Northeast — and an election that led to Democratic gains have elevated global warming as a subject of renewed political debate.
Obama said during his victory speech in Chicago last week that Americans "want our children to live in an America that isn't ... threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."
On Wednesday, Obama did not outline specific legislation, but said he would talk with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find ways to make short-term progress to reduce carbon emissions.
After that, he said the country should begin long-term efforts "to make sure that this is not something we're passing on to future generations," noting that floods, hurricanes and other disasters exacerbated by climate change are "going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with."
Obama did not mention a possible carbon tax pushed by some activist groups. A White House official said this week no such proposal is on the table.
Taking on climate change in a serious way will require "tough political choices" at a time when Americans are more focused on the economy and jobs, Obama said. "If the message is somehow we're going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don't think anybody's going to go for that. I won't go for that."