Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to a packed ballroom at a dinner held by the League of Conservation Voters on Monday night in New York City. The speech was part of an event held to honor Frances Beinecke, of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Speaking at the event Secretary Clinton, who is being closely watched as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, offered a sweeping 30-minute speech on the environment saying the “science of climate change is unforgiving no matter what the deniers say.”
Ahead of the speech, Clinton was seated next to billionaire Tom Steyer, who has committed significant campaign contributions to candidates that support efforts to stem the impact of climate change.
The speech focused on the opportunities for leadership from the US both on policy and on economic development within the context of managing climate change. She highlighted lessons that could be learned from countries like Sweden, which has cut its emissions by approximately 20% while at the same time growing its economy by 60%. “We can make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” Clinton said, calling the choice between economic development and the environment the “old false choice.”
Many of her remarks included strong support for recent efforts from the Obama administration to craft climate agreements and pass more comprehensive environmental regulations. “These policy decisions strengthen our hand when we negotiate with other nations,” she said.
Clinton did not address fracking directly, but did note that it is “responsible to consider when drilling might not be worth the risk,” while also saying “natural gas can play an important bridge role in the transition to a cleaner, greener economy.”
She also sidestepped the recent failed vote on the Keystone XL pipeline. Two hours prior to the LCV event, she was at a political fundraiser for embattled Senator Mary Landrieu who led a failed effort to pass the pipeline bill when Congress returned last month. Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters, noted after Clinton’s speech that Landrieu has had a long relationship with the Clintons, but institutionally, LCV has been unable to support the Senator given her stance on bills like Keystone. Karpinski also noted the LCV’s support for Senators Kay Hagan and Mark Begich who voted for the pipeline but also have a strong record of supporting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which he cited as a key issue.
Clinton also called on city and state governments to take an active role in using renewable energy and building a sustainable economy.
She closed by saying the US must “dare greatly and lead boldly,” in order to hold off the most dire consequences of climate change and lead the world in sustainability.