Obama pro­poses big­ger cli­mate deal be­fore term end

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump says he’ll aban­don his pre­de­ces­sor’s global cli­mate change deal, but that didn’t stop the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion this week from rolling out a new, even more am­bi­tious plan to cut U.S. emis­sions by 80 per­cent by 2050, un­der­min­ing the in­com­ing pres­i­dent on the world stage two months be­fore his in­au­gu­ra­tion.

The lat­est pro­posal, which crit­ics on Capi­tol Hill say is dead on ar­rival as soon as Mr. Trump en­ters the White House on Jan. 20, is be­ing sold to the rest of the world as a long-term road map to U.S. green­house gas re­duc­tions. It comes as Mr. Trump is also un­der grow­ing pres­sure from for­eign gov­ern­ments and lead­ing U.S. com­pa­nies not to walk away from Pres­i­dent Obama’s cli­mate change vi­sion.

Seek­ing to re­as­sure the rest of the world, Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry told a United Na­tions cli­mate con­fer­ence in Morocco that U.S. progress against global warm­ing es­sen­tially is per­ma­nent, all but ig­nor­ing the fact that Mr. Trump has made it crys­tal-clear he plans to scrap the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s cli­mate agenda im­me­di­ately.

As he touted the lat­est pro­posal to slash emis­sions even fur­ther, he also sug­gested to other world lead­ers that if the U.S. does re­verse course and ab­di­cate its lead­er­ship on cli­mate change, Mr. Trump alone will be to blame.

“This re­ally is a turn­ing point. It is a cause for op­ti­mism, notwith­stand­ing what you see in dif­fer­ent coun­tries with re­spect to pol­i­tics and change,”Mr.Ker­ry­said­i­naspeech­lateWed­nes­day. “In no un­cer­tain terms, the ques­tion now is not whether we will tran­si­tion … to a clean en­ergy econ­omy. That we’ve al­ready be­gun to do. The ques­tion now is whether or not we are go­ing to have the will to get this job done.

“That’s the ques­tion now — whether we will make the tran­si­tion in time to be able to do what we have to do to pre­vent cat­a­strophic dam­age,” Mr. Kerry con­cluded.

The lat­est pro­posal rep­re­sents the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s final at­tempt to se­cure Pres­i­dent Obama’s legacy on cli­mate change — a legacy Mr. Trump has vowed to undo, first by pulling the U.S. out of an agree­ment it signed in Paris last year vow­ing to cut emis­sions by at least 26 per­cent by 2025.

The cuts would be achieved through En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency re­stric­tions on emis­sions from coal-fired power plants, more re­new­able en­ergy, en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency mea­sures and other steps, most of which are al­readyun­der­way.Thedealal­sore­quiresChina to cap its emis­sions by 2030 and then be­gin re­duc­ing them.

The new pro­posal un­veiled in Morocco keeps all of those U.S. tar­gets in place while set­tingan­other,even­more­am­bi­tious­long-term goalofre­ducinge­mis­sions­by­atleast­80per­cent over­thenex­t35years,athresh­oldthati­sachiev­able only through an ac­cel­er­ated move away from fos­sil fu­els and to­ward re­new­able power.

Gov­ern­ments at the U.N. con­fer­ence also passed a dec­la­ra­tion call­ing their global warm­ing progress “ir­re­versible,” and re­it­er­ated a vow from wealthy na­tions to com­mit at least $100 bil­lion to help poorer coun­tries re­duce their own emis­sions.

But crit­ics say Mr. Kerry is wast­ing his time and is en­gaged in naked po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing, and that any de­ci­sions reached at the meet­ing will be worth­less within two months.

“Sec­re­tary Kerry’s pledge at the United Na­tion’s cli­mate con­fer­ence in Morocco is a last-ditch ef­fort to save the pres­i­dent’s crum­bling cli­mate legacy. His pledge to cut emis­sions by 80 per­cent likely will be no more rel­e­vant to the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion than the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture on the Paris Agree­ment,” said Sen. James M. In­hofe, Ok­la­homa Repub­li­can and chair­man of the Senate Com­mit­tee on En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Works.

In­deed, Mr. Trump said re­peat­edly on the cam­paign trail that he in­tends to pull the U.S. out of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment, a deal he cast as a job-killing, big-gov­ern­ment ap­proach to en­ergy and the en­vi­ron­ment.

TheTrumptran­si­tion­team­did­notre­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Back at home, Mr. Trump is fac­ing new pres­sure to stick with Mr. Obama’s course on cli­mate change. Hun­dreds of lead­ing busi­nesses, in­clud­ing Star­bucks, IKEA, Hewlet­tPackard, Kel­logg, Sta­ples and oth­ers on Thurs­day sent an open let­ter to Mr. Trump, call­ing on the bil­lion­aire for more gov­ern­ment spend­ing on low-car­bon en­ergy and ask­ing that he con­tinue to pur­sue the emis­sions tar­gets set by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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