US President Barack Obama yesterday announced a plan to slash America's greenhouse gas emissions in a step expected to spur international efforts to reach a new pact to fight climate change by year-end.
Under his Clean Power Plan announced in Washington, power plant owners must cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 32 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
That represents a significant cut in carbon pollution for the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China.
Power stations account for about 40 per cent of US emissions of CO2 - the most abundant greenhouse gas and the main contributor to man-made global warming.
Nations are being asked to ramp up their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid sharp increases in the severity of storms, floods and droughts and to limit sea-level rises.
These pledges are expected to form the basis of a new UN-led agreement to curb the pace at which the planet is heating up. The UN hopes a deal will be sealed at a major climate conference in Paris from Nov 30 to Dec 11.
The world has already warmed on average 0.8 deg C since 1880. Scientists say the planet is on track to warm by up to 4 deg C by the end of this century based on current efforts to limit greenhouse gas pollution, mainly from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
Scientists say much deeper cuts are needed from the US and other nations for the world to meet the UN goal of limiting average global warming to 2 deg C.
French President Francois Hollande said Mr Obama's new plan would be a "major contribution to the success" of the Paris meeting, Agence France-Presse reported.