Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Obama's climate plan

Obama at Georgetown: zimbio.com
Full text of the Obama speech at Georgetown University 25 June 2013. Its major points are:
1. executive action: EPA restrictions on coal emissions, citing national health reasons (an anticipated defense against court challenges)
2. "clean energy" funding
3. mitigation funding: federal aid to states and cities to protect roads, bridges, shorelines and other infrastructure threatened by climate change
4. international commitments to GHG targets along the lines of the Copenhagen accord and Durban text (dubious, given the failure of Kyoto 2 and last year's Rio+20 fiasco). The plan was carefully crafted over the last six months, to enrage the fewest corporate supporters, and to solidify the Democratic vote, faced by a Tea Party impasse in Congress.

Comments (FCNL posted the first three):
Hannah Solomon-Strauss of FCNL President Pivots to Climate Change summarizes the plan.
Michael Shank of US News & World Report Obama Plays It Safe on Climate Change avoids carbon tax.
Marilyn Chapman, Daily Record No More Delays Acting on Climate Change urged a carbon tax.

US liberals: 
Peter Rugh. Waging Non-Violence This land is your land The Obama Administration has proposed new regulations for hydraulic fracturing on 756 million acres of public and tribal lands. The rules were written by the drilling industry and will be streamlined into effect by a new intergovernmental task force, established by the president, to promote fracking — a practice that has been linked to water poisoning, air pollution, methane emissions and, most recently, earthquakes.
Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch Stop promoting false solutions such as CCS and ethanol. The US is a leading cause of the problem, and is obstructing international negotiations.
Chris Williams, ecosocialist Imperial recipes for a burnt planet argues that fossil fuels are built into capitalist growth and imperial realpolitik going back to PPS23 of 1948.
Trip Van Noppen, Earth Justice Obama needs to step up CAP questions EPA "safe limits" for coal and methane; its lack of regulations for oil refineries, shipping, aviation and a renewable portfolio standard.
Anne Petermann in Climate Connection Greenwash our way into oblivion US subsidies and Kyoto positions are unchanged since 2009; "global free trade in environmental services" means carbon markets rather than emissions cuts.
Steve Horn in Counterpunch points to subsidies for nuclear plants, CCS (so-called 'clean coal'), fracking and natgas exports to the world.
Michelle Chan, Friends of the Earth notes up to $8 billion for 'advanced fossil fuel projects', danger with REDD (and other New Market Mechanisms) of a carbon casino profiting Wall St and polluters. The TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated with Europe will weaken environmental regulations. She praises phase-out of handouts to Big Oil, but sees US hypocrisy in continued export subsidies to coal and fossil fuels.
Ecosocialist critique of climate plan as timid and grudging, will not keep the world below 2C, threat of national security state: "publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state" [cf. new Pentagon doctrine on civil unrest May 2013].
David Robert in Grist The significance of Obama’s cryptic Keystone comments: loopholes in the XL pipeline ban; The biggest oversight in Obama’s climate plan is a doozy: the hypocrisy of US coal exports to China.
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert of Slate.com The Best and Worst Parts of Obama’s Climate Plan 
emissions are still rising, climate actions are trivial compared to coal exports, tarsands, and minimal support for some UN action. At best a good first step.
Oscar Reyes, Institute for Policy Studies in DC, raises serious questions about US foot-dragging on international action in his July 16 report from the Green Climate Fund in Songdo, Korea.

The soft centre:
U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz Jun 30: The U.S. government is not waging a “war on coal"
Mark Landler in NYT Obama... U.S. Role in Climate Debate is "ambitious", shows "leadership"[!]. 
Michael Wara, John Cronin in NYT Seeking More Presidential Action, Less Rhetoric, on Warming Wara says the plan is softer than what US courts demanded on coal, and what car manufacturers accepted in CA pollution standards. Cronin foresees an empty rhetorical battle with the House.  
A new Pew poll finds Americans the world's least concerned about climate change.
US media are overlooking 90% of global warming (with graphs) 
The hard right:
Michael van Tandt, National Post (Canada) Smoke and mirrors cloak carbon emissions bottom line: Canada's rightwingers' wrong-headed attack on cap-and-trade as a "carbon tax", lobbying for Alberta tarsands and XL pipeline -- are making Obama's work harder. Obama's XL loophole.
John Connor, Business Spectator (Australia) Carbon's unburnable truth the hypocrisy of Australia's coal exports and BAU; world carbon markets hope for $22.5 trillion expansion.
Koch brothers' Reason.com Obama's climate five-year plan is "communistic".
Denialists in Investors.com Obama speech is full of lies [cf. this gallery of leading US politicians who are climate deniers, and 174 denialist myths compared with scientific consensus]

Further reading: this blog's previous posts on UNFCCC.

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