“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society,” US President Barack Obama said in a speech announcing this ambitious climate action plan.
President Obama outlined a series of climate proposals he intends to advance through executive action, sidestepping a Congress mired in gridlock in its handling of most matters, let alone politically touchy energy and climate issues. He laid out a far-reaching set of proposals aimed at cutting carbon pollution by at least 3 billion tonnes by 2030 and achieving the US’ stated commitment of a 17 per cent reduction of 2005 emission levels by 2020.
The plans include a new directive to the US Environmental Protection Agency to begin limiting carbon emissions for new and existing power plants; measures to support renewable energy and energy efficiency; and long-term investment in clean energy innovation.
Speaking at Georgetown University, Obama said: “The question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements, has put all that to rest.”
“So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.”
Anticipating attacks from Republicans and others opposing action on climate change, Obama preemptively addressed potential criticism that his proposals would harm the economy, citing similar rhetoric unsuccessfully used by critics of the Clean Air Act or legislation to address acid rain. He said: “At the time when we passed the Clean Air Act, to try to get rid of some of this smog, some of the same doom-sayers were saying, ‘New pollution standards will decimate the auto industry.’ Guess what? It didn’t happen. Our air got cleaner.”