Monday, June 02, 2014

Trying to Reclaim Leadership on Climate Change


At the end of his first year in office, President Obama flew to Copenhagen and made a big promise: that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially by 2020 — a bold and risky pledge that hinged on a balky Congress to make it possible. His efforts became bogged down within months, and Mr. Obama’s pledge to the rest of the world soon looked like a pipe dream.

On Monday, Mr. Obama is planning to bypass Congress and take one of the biggest steps any American president has ever taken on climate change, proposing new rules to cut emissions at power plants. Yet, by itself, the president’s plan will barely nudge the global emissions that scientists say are threatening the welfare of future generations.

“Is it enough to stop climate change? No,” said Ted Nordhaus, chairman of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental think tank in Oakland, Calif. “No political leader in the world has a serious agenda to do that.”

Even after Mr. Obama’s inability to get his major climate change proposal through Congress in 2010, fate has intervened to help him toward his goal. Thanks partly to a surfeit of natural gas that few people saw coming, emissions in the United States have already fallen 10 percent from 2005 levels and are still heading down, even without Mr. Obama’s new rule.

(More here.)


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