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Obama's Carbon Plan Still Not Good Enough

Jun 04, 2014 12:34 PM EDT
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Even with President Barack Obama's recent plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants up to 30 percent by 2030, it still leaves the United States short of its climate change pledge before the United Nations, a study said Wednesday.
(Photo : Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Even with President Barack Obama's recent plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants up to 30 percent by 2030, it still leaves the United States short of its climate change pledge before the United Nations, a study said Wednesday.

During UN climate talks in 2010, the United States promised to reduce greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. It also went one step further and set a goal for the year 2050, vowing to curb emissions by 83 percent by such time (also compared to 2005 levels).

However, German analysts took this pledge with a grain of salt, and now, coinciding with a new round of UN climate negotiations in Bonn, claim that Obama cannot fulfill his promises - the plan would only reduce 2030 US national emissions to about 10 percent below 2005 levels.

"While the proposal is welcome, it is insufficient to meet the US's pledges of 17 percent reduction of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and is inconsistent with its long-term target of 83 percent below 2005 level by 2050," Niklas Hoehne of Ecofys, a German group that helped analyze the plan's impact, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The review, called the Climate Action Tracker, regularly keeps tabs on nations to measure whether in fact they are closing in on their UN climate goal of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). According to Bloomberg Businessweek, temperatures are expected to exceed this threshold by the end of the century, and so the United States as well as 190 other nations have agreed to take action to prevent such an occurrence.

The Climate Action Tracker, AFP reported, said global greenhouse gas emissions will have to reach zero sometime between 2060 and 2080 to even meet the two degrees Celsius target.

Despite the healthy dose of skepticism and criticism, other nations, such as China, India and Japan, applaud Obama's efforts and are looking to the United States as a positive example, according to the International Energy Agency.

"This is good news and a courageous step toward more climate protection in the US, and it will also set a clear signal from a global perspective," German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told Bloomberg. "It creates hope for the international climate negotiations."

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