Obama’s Legacy: The Clean Power Plan

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – U.S. President Barack Obama launched his long-awaited master plan to cut carbon emissions, saying, “We are the last generation that can do something’ about climate change” announcing the requirement of 32 percent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. Six years after first promising to tackle the warming of the planet, the President has fought battles against coal industry lobbyists and climate change sceptics in Congress to commit America to unparalleled action against climate change. The new curbs on carbon emissions from power plants that are equivalent to taking 70 percent of American cars off the road was welcomed by environmentalists.

The Clean Power Plan, published in its final form by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on 3 August 2015, outlines how American states will now be required to work with electricity producers to reduce overall carbon emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The target is slightly higher than the 30 percent cut envisaged under proposals last year. The States have been given an extra two years before implementation becomes mandatory and are left to decide what mix of renewable energy, gas generation or efficiency savings is the best way to achieve the target.

Describing it as “the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against climate change”, Obama warned it was almost too late: pointing out that 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have already fallen in the first 15 years of this century. The President said in his speech, “Climate change is no longer about protecting the world for our children and grandchildren, it is about the reality that we are living with right now. We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”

The 1,000 fossil fuel-fired power plants in the U.S. are by far the largest source of CO2 emissions in the country, making up 32 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. By clamping down on emissions, Obama is also working to increase his leverage with other countries whose commitments he's seeking for a global climate treaty to be finalised later this year in Paris. As its contribution to that treaty, the U.S. has pledged to cut overall emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005. Brian Deese, Obama's senior adviser says, "We're positioning the United States as an international leader on climate change."

In Congress, lawmakers have sought to use legislation to stop the President's regulation and the more serious threat to this rule will probably come in the courts. The Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents energy companies, said 20 to 30 States were poised to join with industry in suing over the rule. So with the end of Obama's presidency drawing nearer, his climate efforts are entangled in the next presidential election...the power plant rule won't go into effect until long after Obama leaves office, putting its implementation in the hands of his successor. 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia