Far too late in his presidency Obama is taking important action on climate change:
Obama unveils sweeping cuts to power plant emissions: ‘We have to get going’
‘We are the last generation that can do something’ about climate change says president in announcing requirement of 32% reduction on 2005 levels by 2030
Six years after first promising to “roll back the spectre of a warming planet”, Barack Obama finally committed the US to unprecedented action against climate change on Monday, with sweeping new curbs on carbon emissions from power plants that are equivalent to taking 70% of American cars off the road.
The culmination of his long-fought battle against coal industry lobbyists and climate change sceptics in Congress was greeted with jubilation by many environmentalists who described the tougher-than-expected regulations as a “game-changer”.
Describing it as “the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against climate change”, Obama warned it was almost too late: pointing out that 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have already fallen in the first 15 years of this century.
“Climate change is no longer about protecting the world for our children and grandchildren, it is about the reality that we are living with right now,” said Obama in a speech announcing the plan. “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”
Credit to Obama for this action, it was desperately needed and is a cause for hope. But. But he’s wrong to warn that it is “almost too late”. It is already too late. Cutting emissions is no longer enough to prevent temperature rises above the already dangerous 2 degree limit. We must do more:
Two degree climate target not possible without ‘negative emissions’, scientists warn
All of our options for keeping warming below 2C above pre-industrial temperatures now involve capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground – a technology that doesn’t yet exist on a large scale, according to new research.
The study , published today in Nature Communications, argues that ‘negative emissions’ alone, in the absence of conventional mitigation, are unlikely to achieve the 2C goal.
And in all but the most optimistic cases, staying below 2C requires capturing and storing carbon in amounts that exceed the capabilities of current technology, say the researchers.
Even if the technology did exist yet at a useful scale I doubt that governments would be lining up to adopt it. We are going to drive headlong off this cliff. As a short term measure – and as something anyone can do – plant more trees. We need to plant a lot more trees…