Obama’s green plan likely to face stiff opposition at home

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Aug 03, 2015 23:50 IST

US President Barack Obama is expected to announce later Monday an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse emissions, making states start moving away from coal to cleaner sources of power.

The plan, which builds on one unveiled in 2014, posts a target for cutting emissions by 32% of the 2005-level by 2030, a massive jump over the previous target of 30%.

In a fact sheet released ahead of the announcement, the White House said the president’s Clean Power Plan will prevent “3,600 premature deaths, lead to 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children, and prevent 300,000 missed work and school days”.

US currently draws 39% of its electricity from coal, 27% from natural gas, 19% from nuclear, 6% from water and 7% from all sorts of renewables such as solar, wind and others.

The plan to move away from polluting coal is likely to face stiff opposition from the coal-based power industry and Republicans who remain largely leery of global warming. The National Mining Association said it will go to court. “These [requirements] will burden Americans with increasingly high-costs for an essential service and a less reliable electric grid for delivering it,” said its president, Hal Quinn.

Critics of the plan believe it will make power expensive fro the poor. It will costs for them by at least 10%, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

New Delhi would be following the plan’s progress closely as the US may use it to argue for larger commitments from Indian in the run-up to the climate talks in Paris in December.

India, which is only second to China as the world’s worst polluters, has offered no reduction plans, promising only to scale up its dependence on alternative sources.

“The release of the Clean Power Plan continues momentum towards international climate talks in Paris in December, building on announcements to-date of post-2020 targets by countries representing 70% of global energy based carbon emissions,” said the White House factsheet.

At home, the plan requires states to switch to coal-alternatives, leaving it to them to decide how, and when. State plans are expected by September 2016.

But can take two years more.

The plan builds on the larger Obama administration objective contained in the Climate Action Plan under which emissions standards were redefined for light and heavy duty vehicles.To smoothen the transition and make less painful under the plan, the administration has invested in coal communities to enable workers/miners to diversify. And make further investments in clean sources, and technology.

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