A Scan of Critical World Developments
The US Climate Initiative: New Hope for Paris?
Is there still hope for a climate accord in Paris this fall? The United States, a laggard in international climate action, is taking positive steps forward. The Obama administration’s recently announced Clean Power Plan sets the nation’s most ambitious targets to date for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The new rules, a long-awaited response to the EPA’s 2009 designation of carbon dioxide as a public danger, would require a 32% cut in carbon emissions from power plants by 2030, based on 2005 levels. Carbon emissions from existing power plants will be regulated for the first time. Although unprecedented, the new goals remain modest: since CO2 emissions from power plants fell by 15% between 2005 and 2013, the US is already halfway to the target. Emissions from power plants, moreover, make up only 38% of the nation’s total. Nevertheless, this initiative sends a good faith message to the international community in the lead-up to the pivotal climate negotiations in Paris later this year. However, to keep the hope of a bold climate accord alive, the Clean Power Plan must be a mere down payment on future commitments to fully transition the economy away from fossil fuels.