More than 70 environmental groups called on Barack Obama to take the lead on climate change on Monday, urging him to shut down ageing power plants and block a controversial tar sands pipeline project.
In an open letter (PDF), environmental groups reminded Obama of his promise to act on climate change in his second term – and then laid out three specific actions including shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline.
About 50 protesters tried to occupy the Houston offices of TransCanada Corp, the company building the pipeline, on Monday. Two were reportedly arrested.
The letter said that at the very least, Obama should lead the public debate on how to protect American cities and coastlines from climate change. "Raise your voice," the letter said. "Lead the public discussion of what we need to do as a nation to both prepare for the changes in climate that are no longer avoidable and avoid changes in climate that are unacceptable."