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Alaska exemplifies the climate change debate

US President Barack Obama headed to Alaska today for a three day trip to speak at a conference on climate change organised by the United States. That climate change is the main agenda item at the conference highlights the tension that Alaska — and the rest of the world — faces between the production and consumption of energy and its environmental impact.

Obama's trip to Alaska tops off a month during which his administration introduced several environmental regulations. On 3 August, the president unveiled a new set of regulations to fast-track reductions in carbon emissions from power plants and to give US states slightly more than a year to propose their plans. Later in the month, Obama announced new plans to increase renewable energy access and energy efficiency for US households.

The US moves to implement programs to combat climate change are part of preparations for the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, to be held on 30 November – 11 December in Paris. There, the international community intends to sign binding pacts designed to fight climate change. Ahead of the summit, countries are finalising their pledges. The United States has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. China is aiming to cut emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 60-65% below 2005 levels by 2030.

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