U.N. Climate Summit

Obama Gets 'Polite Applause'

Despite the powerful pleas for collaboration and substantive change, one element was missing from President Barack Obama's speech at the United Nations regarding climate change: a concrete commitment to an immediate reduction in emissions. While other leaders received standing ovations for their "robust targets" for cutting emissions, CNN reports that Obama only received "polite applause" for his speech that pledged a new era of cooperation and U.S. leadership but did not lay out a concrete goal for the immediate future. President Hu Jintao of China, on the other hand, pledged to increase the use of non-fossil fuels for energy to 15 percent by 2020 and also add 150,000 square miles of forest by the same year. Europe has also committed to reducing emissions by 30 percent by 2020. In contrast, the Obama administration has made its goal an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.