Is the war on coal a genuine effort to reduce carbon emissions in America or a war on America’s poor and middle classes and an assault on America’s status as an international power? International Finance Magazine brings out the exclusive analysis on Obama’s Climate Action Plan, his voice against rising climate changes that has rendered America vulnerable to floods, heat waves and droughts. Criticisms on the climate action plan by Obama and defiance by environmentalists.
Humanity’s deadliest common enemy is rapid and uncontrolled global climatic change, read a banner displayed environmentalist groups in Washington DC. Close on heels after the European parliament’s decision to temporarily withhold 900 million of carbon allowances from the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) to stimulate clean energy investment and tackle abundance of carbon credits, President Obama has followed suit by saying he would use his executive powers to enforce new rules on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier in January Obama had pledged in his inaugural address to combat climate change in his second term. Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington DC, the President who is into his second term said “As a president, as a father and an American, I am here to say we need to act”. Launching a scathing attack on his critics he said “ I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real,” he said. “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society”.
The concerns of Obama is very much evident as America has been virtually battered by increasing floods, heat waves and droughts which has taken a toll on the farmers and also led to an increase in food prices. The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15 years and Asthma rates have doubled in the last three decades, the nation’s children are becoming more vulnerable to breathing problems mainly due to harmful climatic changes. Last year America experienced its worst ever climatic disasters with 11 different weather and climatic changes with estimated losses exceeding $ 1 billion across the United States.
Most of the President’s agenda can be executed without the approval of the congress, but some issues are facing opposition and may need to be debated considering the interests of the nation. The climate action plan envisaged by Obama includes limits on carbon emissions from the new and existing power plants. These are the single biggest source of carbon pollution, accounting for a third of US Greenhouse gas emissions and 40 percent of its carbon output. The President has also outlined more renewable energy projects such as solar and wind energy on public lands, with the aim of powering the equivalent of six million homes by 2020. He also set higher goals for renewable energy at federal housing projects. Backed by industry and labour unions he has announced a package of $ 8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur investment in green technologies.
The Climate Action Plan sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon, to prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change and to lead international efforts to avert global warming. Currently the U.S. derives 9 percent of its energy from renewable sources, after petroleum 36 percent, natural gas 25 percent and coal 20 percent and 10 percent from other sources including nuclear power.
Death Knell for Coal-fueled Power Plants ?
Obama’s climate action plan has met with abject criticism from various quarters. In his hit-and-run speech, delivered hours before leaving the country, Obama issued a directive for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), instructing them to begin drafting new coal-rules governing emissions from power plants. The current EPA regulations are already closing coal-fueled power plants at an alarming rate which New Mexico Public Regulations Commissioner Pat Lyons calls “The real energy crisis that no one is talking about”. The new rules could lead to the closure of more than 300 coal fueled power plants, which will be a huge loss to the economy as tens of thousands of jobs in the coal mining industry and billions of dollars of revenues to the local, federal and state government would be eliminated.
Experts opine “Energy poverty causes more harm to the poor than global warming”.
However, government sources have allayed fears of job losses, a study conducted by Synapse Energy Group on behalf of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmentalist group, projected that stricter emission standards could net 210,000 jobs by 2020 and reduce electricity bills by 20 cents a month on average.
Dan Lashof, director of NRDC’s climate and clean air program, said predictions of dire consequences for businesses are “just assertions” uninformed by scientific analysis and that opponents are “making up”.