President Obama’s determination to reduce US power plant emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030 sends a message to world leaders that the UN climate talks in Paris could – just – succeed.
Past talks have foundered on a range of political excuses, but now that the world’s two largest polluters, China and the US, have committed to far-reaching changes in their energy production to keep the world below the dangerous threshold of a 2C temperature increase, the door is open for all the rest to follow.
The stumbling block to US action so far has been the refusal of die-hard members of the Republican Party to accept that climate change is happening, and the well-funded fossil fuel lobby’s legal and political campaign to block any legislation.
But Barack Obama’s use of an existing law − the Clean Air Act of 1970 − has allowed him tobypass Republican opposition simply by issuing new regulations.
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