The US is arguably still the most powerful country in the world, but it has always dragged its feet on climate action.
So when the US Environmental Protection Agency announces carbon emissions cuts of 30% in the power sector by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels), the news deserves the term “historic”.
It is the first time any other US president has regulated carbon pollution from power plants. President Obama had previously tried to push climate regulation through Congress but it had been rejected, so this time he used his executive powers to bypass Congress altogether.
This is not just about disappearing polar bears and melting ice caps,” Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy said. “This is about protecting our health and protecting our homes. This is about protecting local economies and this is about protecting jobs.”
The 30% national target will be divided into individual targets for each state, and the new rules will come into force by 2020 at the latest.
It’s been a good week for the climate so far: the day after the US announcement China – which has the highest greenhouse gas emissions in the world – also made an historic announcement, saying that it would cap its total emissions by the end of this decade. The exact figure has not yet been specified.
It remains to be seen what impact these decisions will have on the UN climate negotiations which kick off this week in Bonn: EWEA will be attending the negotiations and following them closely.