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Obama Vows to Take Personal Charge of Climate Change in Second Term

President acknowledges first term made only limited progress on the contentious issue that has lit up since hurricane Sandy.

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Clark went on: "He's got not only to have a megaphone at the top, but he's got to have local amplifiers out there."

The process of consultations described by Obama on Wednesday would appear to fit that bill.

The exercise would also help build a coalition for climate action, said Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace in the US. "It sounds like he is actually getting backup for his mission. He is forming a phalanx of people who are saying: 'Yes, this is urgent,'" he said.

But he said it would be important, in the wake of Sandy, that Obama not shy away from speaking out about the dangers of climate change. "Owning the risk to the country is the main thing. If he understands the risk to the country and is broadcasting that and telling that story to the people of this country, he will have tremendous support for any action he takes," Davies said. "That was what was missing in 2009. They never said why there was a need for a climate bill."

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