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Climate Change: EU Commissioner Miguel Canete, Welcomes Obama’s Carbon Plan

Miguel CannetA senior EU figure on climate change has hailed US President Obama’s plan to limit the country’s carbon emissions. Obama’s announcement came ahead of a global climate summit in Paris.

In a series of statements on Twitter, the European Union’s commissioner for climate action and energy, Miguel Arias Canete, praised the Clean Power Plan, which was announced by US President Barack Obama on Monday.
Canete called the plan “a positive step forward” in efforts by the US – the world’s second-biggest carbon polluter after China – to cut down on its emissions.

UN leaders are due to gather in the French capital in four months’ time for a climate conference (COP21) with the aim of agreeing on measures to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The vast majority of scientists accept that climate change caused by human’s creation of greenhouse gases is a grave threat to life on Earth.
Obama’s plan marked the first time power plants in the US have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions. The measures force power plant owners to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
“We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it,” Obama told a gathering of supporters at the White House.
Member states of the European Union, which is the world’s third largest carbon emitter, have already agreed to cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2030.

USA: Obama Unveils Regulations To Combat Climate Change
US President Barack Obama has unveiled a much-anticipated decision to tackle climate change. Republicans were quick to criticize it, with some saying it would have “devastating consequences” for the US economy.

In a bid to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday, marking the first time power plants have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
“No challenge poses a greater threat to…future generations than a changing climate,” Obama said.

 

The mandatory measures force power plant owners to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
“There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change,” Obama said.
The US president said each state “will have the chance to put together its own plan for reducing emissions,” adding that the ones that choose to do so sooner would be “rewarded.

“We’re giving states the time and flexibility they need to cut pollution in a way that works for them,” Obama said.
The announcement follows Obama’s release of a video displaying the need for the US to do more to respond to the ever-growing issues brought on by climate change.
Meanwhile, Republicans and lobby groups were quick to criticise Obama’s announcement of the regulations.

Republicans critical
Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Obama’s plan would have “devastating consequences for our economy.”
The lobby group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity said it could take action against the measures, saying Obama’s administration was “pursuing an illegal plan that will drive up electricity costs and put people out of work.”

Presidential contender Jeb Bush condemned the plan, saying “climate change will not be solved by grabbing power from states or slowly hollowing out our economy

“The real challenge is how do we grow and prosper in order to foster more game-changing innovations and give us the resources we need to solve problems like this one,” Bush said.
The move comes ahead of a UN climate change convention slated for the end of the year, when countries across the globe are expected to commit to a legally-binding framework to curb climate change.

…Republicans ridicule Obama climateplan, hailed by UN, EU, green groups
US President Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon emissions from US power plants has been hailed as visionary by the UN, EU and environmental groups. Republicans have vowed to do whatever it takes to halt the measures.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon lauded Obama’s Clean Power Plan, calling it an example of “visionary leadership necessary to reduce emissions and to tackle climate change.”

Obama’s plan, unveiled on Monday, marked the first time power stations in the US have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions. The measures force power plant owners to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

The regulations were also welcomed by environmental groups including the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Sam Adams of the World Resources Institute said the policy would “drive technological innovation.”
Obama is putting the plan in place by executive order, bypassing the Republican-controlled Congress, where the measures have been described as “government overreach” and “heavy-handed.” A number of Republicans and lobby groups have raised concerns about the possible impact the measures could have on the US economy. Some of the plan’s opponents have threatened to sue the government over the new rules.

Vocal opposition
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican senator from coal-rich Kentucky, said the regulations would fail to meaningfully affect the global climate and would drive up electricity costs.

“They could actually end up harming the environment by outsourcing energy production to countries with poor environmental records like India and China,” he said. “I will do everything I can to stop it.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his state would be among the group “launching an aggressive legal campaign.”
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry lobby group, also implied legal action, saying Obama’s administration was “pursuing an illegal plan that will drive up electricity costs and put people out of work.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican candidate for president, said the regulations would be an economic “buzz saw” that would “cost hard-working Americans jobs and raise their energy rates.”
Fellow Republican presidential nominee contender Jeb Bush condemned the plan, saying it wasn’t the right way to tackle the problem of climate change.
“The real challenge is how do we grow and prosper in order to foster more game-changing innovations and give us the resources we need to solve problems like this one,” Bush said.

The road to COP21
Obama has accused his critics of scaremongering and argued that bleak predictions of higher electricity costs, power shortages and a damaged economy aren’t accurate.
“In 1990, when Republican President George H. W. Bush decided to do something about acid rains, [they] said electricity bills would go up, lights would go off. It didn’t happen,” Obama said.

The plan aims to boost the US position at UN climate talks (COP21) in Paris later this year, where world leaders will be hoping to reach an agreement on measures to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The EU’s commissioner for climate action and energy, Miguel Arias Canete, said via Twitter that Obama’s plan provided “further momentum to COP21” and showed the “US commitment to underpin its international climate pledge with domestic action.”
Member states of the European Union, which is the world’s third largest carbon emitter, have already agreed to cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2030.

OPINION: Finally, Obama gets serious about climate change
President Obama’s new climate change rules are no panacea to global warming and won’t turn the US into a green economy overnight. Still, their importance, both domestically and internationally, can’t be overestimated.

Rhetorically, at least, climate change has been a key issue for Barack Obama right from the start. He made it a central political topic during his first presidential campaign back in 2008, promising to make the US the global leader on environmental issues again, should he get elected. But after he did win the White House, he first bungled the historic Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 and then dithered away his first term without making any significant progress on the issue

With the UN’s climate summit in Paris in December, viewed by many as the last chance for the international community to stave off dire global warming scenarios, fast approaching and his legacy in mind, Obama on the home stretch of his presidency is now finally trying to make good on what he promised seven years ago.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was originally announced last year, will for the first time label carbon dioxide a pollutant and establish national rules for carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants for every state. Reaching the proposed goal to cut carbon emissions from US power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 would accelerate the phasing out of coal-fired plants, a key source of US carbon emissions.

Key puzzle piece
While it is true that due to the recession and the fracking boom, which led to cheaper natural gas prices, many US states are already well on track to reach the proposed emissions limits even without the new law, many others are not. It is, however, also true that, given the progress already made, the Clean Power Plan alone would only make a small dent in the overall US carbon emission trajectory.

That’s why just a few weeks ago, the Obama administration proposed tougher fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty truck tractors and trailers. It also announced stricter energy efficiency standards for home appliances, like ovens and dishwashers. Obama’s Clean Power Plan, therefore, must be viewed as one important legislative piece in a larger climate change puzzle game. Individually, each of those schemes will be too little to move the needle on emissions, but combined they could have a significant impact on curbing US carbon output.

Symbolic importance
While its projected carbon reductions are unlikely to make the Clean Power Plan a game changer, its symbolic importance might.
First, because the new law targets the cornerstone of US energy production – utility companies – and forces them to rethink their strategy and energy generation. Second, it puts the issue of climate change squarely back on the political agenda in the upcoming presidential election season and forces all candidates, especially the Republican hopefuls, to take a stance on the issue whether they want to or not.

And third, by launching its most ambitious effort yet to curb carbon emissions, the world’s biggest economy and the world’s second-largest carbon polluter has upped the ante on other countries to follow suit ahead of the Paris climate summit. China, India and the EU should take note.
-DW.DE

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