'Giant step' against climate change in US

WASHINGTON • President Barack Obama will unveil today what he called the "biggest, most important step we've ever taken" to fight climate change, a sensitive issue central to his legacy.

The White House will release the final version of America's Clean Power Plan, a set of environmental rules and regulations that will home in on the pollution from the nation's power plants, setting limits on power-plant carbon emissions.

Laying out how climate change was a threat to the health, well- being and security of millions of Americans, and adding that time was of the essence, the US President said in a video released early yesterday: "Climate change is not a problem for another generation. Not anymore."

"Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change," said Mr Obama, who made the battle against climate change a core promise of his 2008 election campaign.

He added that without imposing limits, existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air weekly.

"For the sake of our kids, for the health and safety of all Americans, that's about to change," he said.

Mr Obama argued that the plans will lead to lower energy bills for everyday Americans and create jobs in the renewable energy sector. Quite simply, he said, the United States needed to lead the world in saving the planet, ahead of a major meeting of world powers in Paris in December tasked with doing just that.

The new plan sets a goal of cutting carbon pollution from power plants by 32 per cent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Previously the target had been 30 per cent.

But the move is likely to face fierce opposition from numerous sides, including political rivals and industry groups, as well as possible legal challenges.

Power plants account for some 40 per cent of US emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Cuts are politically sensitive as coal, among the dirtiest energy sources, remains a major US industry. Hundreds of coal-fired power plants dotted across the country provide about 37 per cent of the US electricity supply, ahead of natural gas and nuclear reactors.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2015, with the headline ''Giant step' against climate change in US'. Print Edition | Subscribe