White House Announces Emissions Cuts as Part of Global Deal
By James Griffitts, Contributor
The Obama Administration has released a plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States by 26% to 28% over the next ten years. Effective implementation of this plan will fulfill U.S. responsibilities in a deal struck with President Xi Jinping of China late last year.
The White House’s plan includes a number of actions that President Obama is empowered to take without legislative approval. Measures include ceasing construction on all new coal-fired power plants, raising fuel economy standards for new vehicles, and cracking down on methane gas leaks from oil and natural gas extraction operations. The plan is designed to be implemented through executive action and existing laws without requiring congressional approval—a practical acknowledgement by the administration that climate change legislation would not pass the Republican controlled House and Senate.
The Obama administration’s submission of this ambitious plan shows the willingness of the U.S. to take a leadership role in making substantial reductions in GHG emissions and limiting climate change. Previous international climate deals have collapsed largely due to the unwillingness of the United States to commit to reducing emissions. With a strong U.S. commitment, other countries will be more likely to make major changes of their own.
The White House has made a major effort to take a leadership role internationally and the U.S. and China, the two largest producers of greenhouse gasses, have agreed to make real improvements. China is likely acting (or reacting) to increasing public concern over environmental pollution among Chinese citizens which makes real change from the Chinese government more likely. A recent poll found that 57% of the Chinese population now prioritizes the environment over the economy.
The plan has been widely praised by environmental groups and responsible investors, including First Affirmative Financial Network. The administration’s plan shows not only a willingness to make real change but a commitment to further action in the future, and in partnership with the rest of the world.
By taking executive action, the Obama Administration has shown that its goal is to move the issue of climate change forward regardless of the home-grown opposition.
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Posted: April 13, 2015