President Obama has announced in an online video (embedded below) that he will reveal a national plan to address climate change in a speech on Tuesday, 25 June at Georgetown University.
Fron the video, it’s clear the Administration is gearing up to sell the long-awaited plan to as many people as possible. The video plays like an advertisement for the upcoming plan, complete with music soundtrack and emotive images of American landscape and industry.
In his video message , Obama acknowledges that back during his inaugural address for his second term he pledged to the nation (and world) that America would “respond to the growing threat of climate change for the sake of our children and future generations”. On Tuesday, he said he will explain a national plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and also prepare the United States for the inevitable impacts of climate change. He has also asserted that he wants the U.S. to “lead global efforts to fight it”.
It remains to be seen whether the plan will go as far as leading global efforts, considering some nations are doing quite a lot more already. However, there are already some hints as to what will be in Obama’s climate plan. It’s clear from his statement, and from earlier statements and existing policies, that encouraging more clean energy and clean technology will be major part of the plan.
Such is the current political situation in Washington, Obama is much more likely to put forward initiatives that do not require the approval of Congress. In fact, that is what Al Gore has been strongly advocating as late as last week. As Grist has suggested, Obama could also heavily restrict carbon emissions from new and even existing power plants.
This would eventually force coal-fired powered plants out of existence. Already the trend is for older coal-fired plants in the U.S. to shut down. Over 100 have already been shut down since 2010, and have largely been replaced by gas. Electric power stations create about a third of U.S. emissions, so addressing the emissions from them is very important.
Obama could also increase clean energy development on federal lands. Again, this is something that’s already happening to a certain extent, especially with solar power. The administration could also increase efficiency standards for buildings, industrial equipment, and for all manner electrical appliances.
It seems unlikely at this point that Obama would put forward a plan for a gradually increasing carbon tax aimed at the biggest polluters, as some are advocating, such as eminent climate scientist Dr. James Hansen. It would need the approval of Congress, and it would create fierce public and political debate, as it did in Australia before a mild carbon tax was introduced there. No doubt there would be a great deal of opposition from Republicans, as well as from the very well funded fossil fuel industry lobby.
Obama’s climate plan speech is slated for 1:35 p.m. ET on Tuesday. We’ll certainly be bringing you the details after the plan is unveiled.