Saturday, February 16, 2013

Obama, now you're talking!

"I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions," Obama said at a news conference on 14 November 2012, shortly after he was re-elected (without mentioning climate change in the campaign debates), adding "and as a consequence, I think we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it." In his victory speech on November 7, he had said "We want our children to live in an America ... that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."  In the State of the union address, he drew attention to his powers of Executive Order, to act if Congress can not.

So I take back what I said about President AWOL. Actually I borrowed it from The Worldwatch Institute

But there is much that can be done even without executive orders. Apparently the United States can achieve emissions reductions using current law, flexing the muscles of the Clean Air Act and the Ozone Protocol. The World Resources Institute (WRI) has published a playbook (yes, with a silver lining) that explains what can, and must be done to bring harmful emissions under control. The main points are:

The greatest projected emissions reduction opportunities by 2020 and beyond come from four federal policy measures. The Administration will need to pursue these opportunities if the United States is to achieve the 17 percent reduction target. Those policies are:
  • standards to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants (48 percent of total emissions gap between business-as-usual (BAU) and 2020 target);
  • requirements to phase out the use of certain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) (23 percent of total emissions gap between BAU and 2020 target);
  • standards to reduce methane emissions from natural gas systems (11 percent of total emissions gap between BAU and 2020 target);7 and
  • actions to improve energy efficiency in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors (8 percent of total emissions gap between BAU and 2020 target).
Download the summary from WRI

There is also a fascinating discussion at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on the implications for Canada of Obama's new U.S. climate-change measures. 

This site is a companion site to The progress trap and how to avoid it, which is a companion site to the book Escaping the progress trap

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