Published on July 1st, 2013 | by Anneli Hidalgo0
Obama unveils climate action plan
US President Barack Obama has laid out a package of measures aimed at curbing climate change.
The plans are part of the effort to meet a previously stated goal to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. The measures include limits on emissions from power plants, plans for an expansion of renewable energy projects, improved flood resilience as well as calls for an international climate deal. The president said climate change posed an immediate threat, with the 12 hottest years on record all occurring in the past 15 years.
“While we may not live to see the full realization of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be better off for what we did,” he added.
As he spoke in 33 degree heat at Georgetown University in Washington DC on June 25, Mr Obama announced he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to draft emission standards for new power plants this year and existing power plants next year. He also called for more solar and wind energy projects on public lands, with the aim of powering the equivalent of six million homes by 2020. In addition, President Obama announced $8bn (£5bn) in federal loan guarantees to spur investment in green technologies. He announced an end to US public financing of dirty coal fired power stations internationally and an end to tax subsidies of fossil fuels within the United States.
Since the climate plan was announced, it has had mixed reception. Opponents were quick to attack his sweeping proposals, arguing the new regulations on carbon-fueled power plants–the source of 40% of the country’s electricity–will cause a surge in costs and burn holes in Americans’ pockets. The Republican Party’s Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell who represents the coal-rich state of Kentucky, said the plan was “tantamount to declaring a war on jobs. Andrew Steer, the president of the World Resources Institute and a former top official at the World Bank, called the presidential initiative “extraordinarily important”.
Roger Harrabin, Environment analyst, BBC UK, said: “There are things to upset environmentalists, like the absence of any commitment to drop Keystone XL and the continuing support for biofuels. Nor is the plan as precisely quantified as the UK’s climate policy, for instance, which commits to methodically cutting emissions through to 2050. But if the president has the stomach for a legal fight over bypassing Congress on coal, if he’s willing to impose extra measures in a few years and if his policies don’t get overturned, today’s announcement could help the US achieve its international carbon pledges up to 2020.”