Obama to un­veil ‘big­gest, most im­por­tant’ cli­mate change plan

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

With one eye on his legacy, U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama will Mon­day un­veil what he called the “big­gest, most im­por­tant step we’ve ever taken” in the fight against cli­mate change.

The White House will re­lease the fi­nal ver­sion of Amer­ica’s Clean Power Plan, a set of en­vi­ron­men­tal rules and reg­u­la­tions that will home in on pol­lu­tion from the na­tion’s power plants, set­ting lim­its on power- plant car­bon emis­sions for the first time.

Plants will have to re­duce car­bon diox­ide emis­sions by 32 per­cent from 2005 lev­els by 2030, in an am­bi­tious drive which will boost the re­new­ableen­ergy sec­tor but which is al­ready fac­ing stern op­po­si­tion.

Lay­ing out how cli­mate change is a threat to the econ­omy, health and se­cu­rity of Amer­ica, and adding that time was of the essence, Obama said in a video re­leased early Sun­day: “Cli­mate change is not a prob­lem for another gen­er­a­tion. Not any more.

“Power plants are the sin­gle big­gest source of harm­ful car­bon pol­lu­tion that con­trib­utes to cli­mate change,” added Obama, who made the bat­tle against cli­mate change a core prom­ise of his 2008 elec­tion cam­paign.

“But un­til now, there have been no fed­eral lim­its to the amount of that pol­lu­tion that those plants can dump into the air.”

He added that with­out im­pos­ing the un­prece­dented lim­its, “ex­ist­ing power plants can still dump un­lim­ited amounts of harm­ful car­bon pol­lu­tion into the air weekly.

“For the sake

of our

kids, for the health and safety all Amer­i­cans, that’s about change.”

Power plants ac­count for some 40 per­cent of U.S. emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide, the most com­mon green­house gas that con­trib­utes to cli­mate change.

Hot-but­ton Is­sue

of to

In the com­ing months, Obama is ex­pected to visit Alaska to high­light the im­pact of cli­mate change and will host Pope Fran­cis at the White House, when they are ex­pected to make an im­pas­sioned and col­lec­tive call for ac­tion.

With the end of his pres­i­dency draw­ing nearer, Obama ar­gued in the video that the plans will lead to lower energy bills in the fu­ture for Amer­i­cans, cre­ate jobs in the re­new­able energy sec­tor and en­sure more re­li­able energy ser­vices.

Quite sim­ply, he said, the United States and the rest of the world need to act now to save the planet, ahead of a ma­jor meet­ing of world pow­ers in Paris in De­cem­ber tasked with do­ing just that.

In its ini­tial pro­posal a year ago, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had set the car­bon emis­sions cut from the power sec­tor at 30 per­cent.

The tough 32 per­cent col­lec­tive re­duc­tion drew fierce op­po­si­tion from the Repub­li­can Party, which de­scribed the mea­sures as “over­reach” and “heavy-handed,” and said they would have “dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for our econ­omy.”

Cli­mate change is a hot-but­ton is­sue in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and cuts are po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive be­cause coal, among the dirt­i­est energy sources, re­mains a ma­jor U.S. in­dus­try.

Even as nat­u­ral gas gains in pop­u­lar­ity, hun­dreds of coal­fired power plants dot­ted across the coun­try pro­vide about 37 per­cent of the U.S. elec­tric­ity sup­ply, ahead of nat­u­ral gas and nu­clear energy.

‘War on coal’?

In the video, Obama said that global warm­ing and the rea­sons be­hind it were backed up by sci­en­tific data — some op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Party fig­ures dis­pute the ex­is­tence of global warm­ing and oth­ers cast doubt on whether hu­mans are to blame for the phe­nom­e­non.

But it is not only Repub­li­cans who have voiced alarm: op­po­nents in the energy in­dus­try have also hit out at Obama’s ini­tia­tive, ac­cus­ing him of wag­ing a “war on coal.”

Gina McCarthy, head of Amer­ica’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, in­sisted the rules were “rea­son­able” and “achiev­able.”

“They can cut car­bon pol­lu­tion in what­ever way makes the most sense to them,” McCarthy said.

“No plant has to meet them alone or all at once, they have to meet them as part of the grid and over time.”

Hil­lary Clin­ton, hop­ing to take over from Obama af­ter the 2016 elec­tion, wel­comed the an­nounce­ment as a “sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in meet­ing the ur­gent threat of cli­mate change.

“And it drives in­vest­ments in clean energy and energy ef­fi­ciency, re­duces asthma at­tacks and pre­ma­ture deaths, and pro­motes a health­ier en­vi­ron­ment and a stronger econ­omy.”

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