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Power plant regulations show U.S. is serious about managing climate risk

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Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced that the United States’ existing fleet of power plants must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 under a groundbreaking new proposed rule.

The proposed regulation is the centerpiece of the Climate Action Plan, which is designed to help deliver a 17% overall reduction in U.S. GHG emissions below 2005 levels by 2020. It also removes any remaining doubt that climate change is now a top political priority of President Obama’s second term.

E3G CEO Nick Mabey said,

"With this announcement Obama has clearly attached his political legacy to delivering domestic action on climate change. These regulations are the environmental equivalent of Obamacare and will stir up similar levels of opposition."

While it will face fierce political opposition domestically, the new rule should provide the U.S. with better diplomatic standing internationally. To date, U.S. negotiators have had relatively little leverage in the U.N. negotiations and some other multilateral venues due to the lack of domestic legislation and a credible pathway to achieving their proposed emissions reductions. This announcement, alongside other recent developments such as Secretary of State John Kerry directing all State Department staff to prioritize climate change in all operations, opens up the opportunity for the U.S. to play a more active role in delivering a meaningful agreement in Paris next year. This will also depend, however, on the actions of other major emitters.

Nick Mabey continued,

"This announcement will put other global leaders on notice that the U.S. will do everything necessary to get a global climate agreement in Paris. Obama cannot deliver limits on coal power at home unless he can show China is committed to reducing emissions as well"

Taylor Dimsdale, Senior Research Associate in E3G’s Washington office, said,

“Unless the President’s plan is implemented U.S. emissions could actually increase slightly by 2020. So the 17% reduction target will not be easy to achieve and shale gas alone is not a credible approach. This rule represents a significant contribution from the U.S. towards global emissions mitigation.”

Taylor Dimsdale continued,

“We’ve heard a lot of talk from this Administration in recent years about leadership on climate, but this is real action. Critically, this also sends a strong signal to the business and investment community that the U.S. Government is betting on a low carbon future.”

Contact

Nick Mabey, CEO, +44 (0) 7949 768 771 / nick.mabey@e3g.org

Tom Burke, Chairman and Founding Director, +44 (0) 7710 627616 / tom.burke@e3g.org

Taylor Dimsdale, Senior Research Associate in Washington, +1 240 381 4594 / taylor.dimsdale@e3g.org

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