President Obama's highly anticipated Climate Action Plan was released earlier this week, the centerpiece of which focuses on cutting carbon emissions from new and existing coal fired power plants. Such plants are responsible for nearly 40% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Other components of the plan focus on investing in renewable energy technologies, fortifying vulnerable communities and infrastructure against the impacts of severe weather, and leading international efforts to slow the effects of climate change.
As part of those international efforts, the United States has agreed to end financial support for construction of new coal-fired power plants overseas, except for those in the “world’s poorest countries” and those that employ carbon capturing technologies.
2013 Goldman Prize recipient Kimberly Wasserman commented on the policy, “While it’s great to hear about the presidential memorandum to work on completing the carbon pollution standards for new and existing coal power plants, it sorely lacks a specific timeline for moving forward to make this plan a reality. We cannot continue to use a fossil-fuel based market mentality in solving the problem of climate change.”
Wasserman was awarded the Goldman Prize for her tireless efforts to shut down two of the nation’s oldest and dirties coal plants in Chicago, Illinois.
New York Times blogger Andrew C. Revkin echoed Wasserman’s sentiments in his recent article Obama’s Ambitious Global Warming Action Plan, “Of course this climate plan is just rhetoric until it is translated into on-the-ground actions. And the most significant steps, such as the rule-making that would cut carbon dioxide pollution from existing power plants, will take a decade or more to come to fruition.”
Still, the plan is being cautiously hailed by many in the environmental community as an important step in the right direction. Even the White House acknowledged that the plan is not a cure-all, saying, “While no single step can reverse the effect of climate change, we have a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted and damaged.”