President Barack Obama announced yesterday what is correctly being hailed as the most ambitious plan to cut carbon pollution in the United States.1 In a nutshell, the plan aims to cut down carbon emissions in the US by 32% (2005) by 2030.2
The speech is quite sober, easy to understand and complete so rather than summarizinng the plan myself, I though of giving a recap of its main points by re-arranging what I consider to be the most important statements made by Obama. This does mean that whilst all statements below are Obama’s, sentences were not necessarily said in the order presented. Whilst this is not precisely orthodox and although the full speech is always better, it is a fantastic way to get the most fundamental elements about the plan and the intentions behind the plan.
So, here we go:
We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.
EPA is setting the first ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants. America’s Clean Power Plan. A plan two years on the making and the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change. Longest engagement process in EPA history… to make sure that what we are doing was realistical and achievable but still ambitious.
Power plants are the source of about a third of America’s carbon pollution. That’s more pollution than our cars, our airplanes and our homes generate combined… But there have never been federal limits… We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury, and sulfur, and arsenic in our air or our water and we are better of for it. But existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air.
The idea of setting standards and cutting carbon pollution is not new, it’s not radical. What is new is that starting today Washington is starting to catch up with the vision of the rest of the country… With this by 2030 carbon pollution from our power plants will be 32% lower than it was a decade ago… 870 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere… equivalent of taking a 166 million cars off the road.
Every state has a different energy mix. Over the next few years each state will have the chance to put together its own plans for reducing emissions. We’ll reward the states that take action sooner… By combining this with greater investment in our booming clean energy sector and smarter investments in energy efficiency and by working with the world to achieve a climate agreement by the end of this year we can do more to slow and maybe even eventually stop… carbon pollution.
Let’s be clear. There will be critics of what we’re trying to do. There will by cynics that say it cannot be done. Long before the details of this clean power plan were even decided the special interest and their allies in congress were already mobilizing… everytime America’s made progress it’s been despite this kind of claims.
The only reason that China is now looking at getting serious about its emissions is because they saw that we were going to do it too. When the world faces its toughest challenges America leads the way forward. That’s what this plan is about… In December, with America leading the way, we have a chance to put together one of the most ambitious international climate agreements in human history.
Image credits: A coal and gas powered plant in the US (Big Hanaford). Kid Clutch via Flickr (Unmodified). License: CC BY 2.0.