In an interview with National Geographic, President Obama stressed the importance of California’s conservation efforts amid a fourth year of drought, laid out his expectations for this year’s climate conference in Paris, and reiterated America’s commitment to a “low-carbon future.”
In honor of Earth Day, the outlet sent ten questions to the president, touching on issues of climate change, the Clean Air Act, and the impact of development on national parks and the environment.
On the federal response to the drought, Obama told NG that the government is “working with the state to speed investments that respond to California’s long-term water challenges.”
“While no single drought event can be traced to climate change, the fact of the matter is with a warming climate we’re going to see more frequent and more severe droughts in the West in the future,” Obama told the outlet. “That’s one of the reasons my administration has been focused on helping communities prepare for the effects of climate change.”
The president listed a number of ways the federal government is working with the state to help alleviate the drought, including providing millions in emergency loans to farmers and food banks.
“At the same time, Californians need to do everything they can to save water, and we’re starting to see some progress on that front,” Obama added. “Everyone is in this together and we all need to be doing our part.”
Obama also defended against criticism of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this year, writing that the conference will allow for the establishment of “an ambitious, durable climate regime that applies fairly to all countries, demands accountability, and deals with some other key issues.”
“If we can do that, we’ll have a way to hold each other accountable for the goals we have set, and a framework for coming back together to set new goals and raise our ambition on regular cycles,” the president added. “And I’m hopeful that we can get there.”
The president struck a conciliatory tone when asked about his administration’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and whether the U.S. would continue to develop its domestic energy resources.
“Today, we are very much at the center of Deepwater Horizon restoration activities, and we are committed to making sure we leave the Gulf Coast stronger than ever,” Obama told the outlet. “At the same time, the reality is that we will continue to rely in part on fossil fuels while we transition to a low-carbon economy… So we’re committed to a low-carbon future, but we need to have a balanced approach to getting there.”
Obama remained mum on National Geographic‘s question about his opinion on two recent development projects proposed near the site of the Grand Canyon. The president did, however, discuss the negotiation of ocean protection as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, “attacks on science,” and his “most special place” in Hawaii, Hanauma Bay, which the First Family often visits on vacation.
Check out the rest of President Obama’s Earth Day interview with National Geographic here.