Climate Institute support for Obama power plan

WHILE the energy industry continues to criticise US President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, it was praised by Australian body, The Climate Institute.

Anthony Barich

The Climate Institute called Obama’s plan a “significant step” in regulating carbon pollution and a “welcome boost” for international climate negotiations.

“President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is an historic and significant step in regulating carbon pollution reductions from power stations and in strengthening requirements for renewable energy,” institute CEO John Connor said.

“The plan will help boost momentum for international climate negotiations but needs to be seen as part of broader US efforts which are significant but will need to be strengthened to bring into line with the target of avoid 2C warming agreed to by the more than 190 countries taking part.”

The regulations on power stations are just one part of Obama’s commitment to reduce national emissions by around 27% by 2025.

Connor said Obama’s plan would reduce national emissions by around 10% by 2025 with other regulations on cars, trucks and other pollution reduction measures being implemented to achieve the US overall target.

“While the detail will be important, the US clean energy plans highlights the serious actions that our major international partners are taking to modernise their power sectors to reduce their economic dependence on coal and other polluting fuels,” Connor said.

“However, the US can and should do more to reduce pollution,” he added. “To play its part in avoiding 2C the US will need to accelerate action after 2025.”

The US’ current international undertakings imply a 40% emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2030 to help achieve its stated 80% target by 2050.

The plan comes as Australia is set to decide on its post-2020 climate pollution targets next week. Connor wants Australia to follow the US in setting a 2025 target to “maximise flexibility to take advantage of developments in technology, global carbon markets and policy”

“Our analysis recommends that, to do our bit in helping achieve the internationally agreed goal of avoiding 2C warming, Australia should set a target of 45% reduction off 2005 levels by 2025,” Connor said.

“Central to Australia’s response must be a plan to modernise and decarbonise our power sector which is propped up by ageing and highly polluting coal fired power plants.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is the signal it sends on global trends, the focus is growing internationally on modernising energy systems with growing regulation on carbon pollution and greater incentives for renewables.”

On the other side of the ideological spectrum, the Environmental Policy Alliance in the US has highlighted what it calls the “ridiculousness” of the doomsday prophecies long made by anti-energy environmental activists and politicians like former US President Jimmy Carter.

“In fact, while fossil fuel use has increased, air pollution has been cut in half; and US energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest levels in 20 years,” the alliance said this week.

“The crux of modern day environmentalism is that things are getting worse. Today we hear alarmist claims that without elimination of fossil fuels, we’re facing mass extinction,” Environmental Policy Alliance director of research Will Coggin said.

“Not only have environmentalists been wrong for decades, but the environment has improved significantly.”

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