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Obama ‘optimistic’ about sealing global climate agreement

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Photo: mayatoday.com

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Sunday said he was “optimistic” about sealing a global climate agreement at the upcoming two-week UN conference in Paris.

“What makes this gathering different is that more than 180 nations have already submitted plans to reduce the harmful emissions that help cause climate change,” Obama said in a Facebook post as he traveled to the talks.

Negotiators in Paris, he said, will try to put in place “a long-term framework for further emissions reductions” that includes “targets set by each nation, but transparent enough to be verified by other nations”, Xinhua news agency reported.

The UN climate talks will officially start in Paris on November 30, tasked with adopting a universal climate deal. More than 180 countries have submitted their action plans before the conference.

However, it is unclear whether these pledges are enough to prevent the temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial level.

Obama said the UN summit will also “work to mobilize support to help the most vulnerable countries expand clean energy and adapt to the effects of climate change we can no longer avoid”.

Obama, who intends to cement his climate legacy, has acted mostly through executive power, including his push for emissions cuts from power plants.

Republicans, who controlled the US Congress, however, denied the reality of climate change and claimed that Obama’s climate policies may produce significant damage to the US economy.

Such intense opposition surely sowed doubts on the world stage about whether the US will honor its climate promises in the future.

Obama, who has just one year in office, rejected such claims.

“In fact, our businesses and workers have shown that it’s possible to make progress towards a low-carbon future while creating new jobs and growing the economy,” he wrote.

“Our economic output is at all-time highs, but our greenhouse gas emissions are down towards 20-year lows.”

Obama will only be attending on November 30 and December 1, the first and second day of the two-week event, during which he will have several bilateral meetings planned, including with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I’m optimistic about what we can achieve — because I’ve already seen America take incredible strides these past seven years,” he said.

With the terror attacks on Paris two weeks ago, the US president said the UN climate summit was an opportunity for the world to “stand as one and show that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children”.

(IANS)

Next Story

Trump EPA Finalizes Rollback of Key Obama Climate Rule that Targeted Coal Plants

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America's 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans

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Trump, Obama, Climate
EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks with the media at the Environmental Protection Agency, June 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States as scientists continue to warn countries to rapidly cut emissions to prevent the most drastic effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s initiative to cut global warming emissions from coal plants.

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America’s 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans by encouraging coal plants to improve their efficiency.

By contrast, the Clean Power Plan was designed to slash power plant carbon emissions by more than one-third from 2005 levels by 2030 by pushing utilities to replace coal with cleaner fuels like natural gas, solar and wind.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. VOA

The Obama-era plan was never enacted, however, because of lawsuits filed by Republican states and hundreds of companies. The Supreme Court halted its enactment in February 2016.

“States will be given the flexibility to design a plan that best suits their citizens environmental and energy needs, according to a summary of the new rules,” according to a summary of the ruling.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at a Washington news conference, “Our ACE rule will incentivize new technology which will ensure coal plants will be part of a cleaner future.”

But environmentalists, many Democratic lawmakers and some state attorneys general have labeled the new rules the “Dirty Power Plan,” maintaining they will lead to increases in carbon emissions and other pollutants over the next few decades.

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“At a time when Americans are urging us to take meaningful climate action and reduce our carbon footprint, today’s Dirty Power Plan is a failure of vision and leadership,” said Joe Goffman, executive director of Harvard University’s Environmental & Energy Law Program.

Even the EPA’s own regulatory analysis last year estimated Trump’s ACE rule would kill an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of more air pollution from the U.S. power grid.

Trump has, nevertheless, dismissed scientific warnings on climate change, including a report this year from scientists at more than a dozen federal agencies noting that global warming from fossil fuels “presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life.”

Trump promised early in his presidency to kill the Clean Power Plan as part of an effort to revive the ailing coal industry, contending it exceeded the federal government’s authority.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan. Pixabay

Wednesday’s announcement to overturn Obama-era climate rules is part of a broader Trump administration effort to roll back “a multitude of health, safety environmental and consumer protections at the behest of corporate interests,” the non-profit consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen concluded in a report released in May.

The report said shortly after Trump took office in early 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent the Trump administration a list of 132 regulations that “concerned” members and detailed their “preferred course of action to address its concerns on each of the regulations.”

The report concluded that “Regulatory agencies have granted or are working on granting 85 percent of the wishes related to rulemakings on a list of deregulatory demands submitted” by NAM.

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The new rule is expected to take effect within 30 days. (VOA)