Why President Obama’s Clean Power Plan Is So Ground-breaking

This week President Obama unveiled the strongest climate action plan in US history, and the first to set Federal limits on carbon emissions from power plants. Under the new Environmental Protection Agency ruling knows as the Clean Power Plan, power plants will be required to cut emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 to help curb climate change.

"I am convinced that no challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a changing climate."

US President Barack Obama

Our climate expert, Jeffrey Hayward, explains why the Clean Power Plan is so ground-breaking.

  • It places strict limits on power plants and major sources of carbon emissions because carbon pollution has been shown to endanger human health, thus vesting in the EPA a legal mandate to act.
  • It sets forth a vision for increasing renewable energy, thus charting a progressive course for green energy production unlike any ever proposed by a US president.
  • It is a bold move politically, because there is such strong domestic opposition, but a strong stance at home positions the US to take a leadership role in the global climate negotiations for Paris in December 2015.
  • While the 32 percent greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030 should be seen as a minimum target necessary, the target is significant in that it: a) is attainable, b) keeps the US close to (but not yet beating) Europe’s targets, and c) sets the stage for more ambitious future targets, such as an 80% reduction (from baseline 1990 levels) by 2050, which is what’s needed to keep warming below 2 degrees celsius.

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