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Commentary Climate Change

Clean Power Plan Commentary from Around the World

Last week the Obama administration released the Clean Power Plan, with far-reaching implications for the U.S. power sector. The Plan received considerable media attention, not just in the United States but around the world. After reading several dozen articles and editorials from a wide range of countries, Inaugural Fellow David Sandalow offered the following observations. See below and here (PDF) for links.


I just finished reading several dozen news article and editorials concerning the Clean Power Plan from around the world.  (See links below.)  Several conclusions:

First, much of the world sees the Clean Power Plan through a Paris frame. Most articles drew links to the Paris climate conference in December, describing the Plan as “a sign of commitment on the way to Paris” (La Nación, Argentina), a “diplomatic step only months ahead of Paris,” (O Globo, Brazil), “an important signal for the climate change conference in Paris” (Bild, Germany) or with similar phrases. French President Francois Hollande, quoted in Le Monde, said the Plan would be a “major contribution to the success” of the Paris conference.

Second, the Clean Power Plan will help U.S. negotiators in Paris. Some articles said that explicitly, declaring that “the recently-announced plan increases the credibility of the USA in the climate negotiations” (BBC analyst quoted in Folha de Sao Paulo, Brazil). Many other articles asserted that credibility in Paris was part of the motivation for the Clean Power Plan, stating (for example) that “Mr. Obama is also working to increase his leverage and credibility with other nations whose commitments he’s seeking for a global climate treaty to be finalized later this year in Paris.” (The Hindu, India)

An interesting question is how exactly the Plan will help U.S. negotiators at the Paris conference. Most major economies have already announced their emissions reduction plans and the amount each country pledges to reduce emissions will not be a topic for negotiation in Paris. The conference will not be like a classic trade negotiation, where a proposal from one party puts pressure on the others to match or offer more. However in the culture of the climate negotiations, countries that display more seriousness about reducing emissions are often considered more credible across a range of topics. On issues that will be under negotiation in Paris – including the process for reviewing and updating national emissions plans, financial pledges and the legal form of the agreement – demonstrated seriousness in reducing emissions matters. The Clean Power Plan along with President Obama’s other climate policies will boost U.S. negotiators.

Third, the world is acutely aware of U.S. political controversy related to climate change. Nearly every article noted the strong opposition to the Clean Power Plan from Republican lawmakers and the coal industry. China News reported that “Obama’s Clean Power Plan was strongly opposed by the Republican Party, which believes it ‘goes too far’, ‘is too harsh’, and will bring ‘devastating consequences’ to the US economy.” British newspapers noted that “there will be legal and administrative challenges, from at least a dozen states, maybe two dozen” (The Guardian) and that the Plan’s emissions targets are “likely to become a political football in the next general election campaign” (Daily Telegraph). Le Monde reported that French President Hollande “hailed Obama’s ‘courage’ in the face of Republican recriminations and the threat of legal action by the lobby group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.”

Finally, impatience with the U.S. on climate change runs deep. Although many articles praised the Clean Power Plan, others saw it as “too little, too late” (commentary in Der Spiegel, Germany). An opinion piece in the Gulf News (UAE) criticized the US for a “half-hearted approach to such reforms” saying “It’s unfortunate that such action has taken so long in coming from the world’s economic leader.”

Following are articles and commentary on the Clean Power Plan from around the world. Many thanks to María Alegre, Research Assistant at the Center on Global Energy Policy, for her great work in compiling these articles and translating key passages.


*David Sandalow is the Inaugural Fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. María Alegre is a Research Assistant at the Center and member of the Class of 2015 at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

News Articles and Editorials from Around the World



Obama Announces Ambitious Plan Against Climate Change (news article)

“Brave starting point towards climate conference in Paris.”

“Resistance from some states and the Republican Party will increase considerably.”

“As some state prosecutors are already planning judicial measures, the dispute is likely to reach the US Supreme Court.”

“Obama anuncia un ambicioso plan contra el cambio climático”, Clarín, August 2, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015, http://www.clarin.com/mundo/Cambio_climatico-Estados_Unidos-Obama_0_1405059844.html

La Nación

Obama Launches Ambitious Plan to Tackle Climate Change (news article)

“Hillary Clinton…expressed yesterday her support. ‘It is a good plan and I will defend it when I am president’.”

“The new proposals will not have an easy path forward, due to the legal challenges that big companies will resort to, and the rejection of several republican governors, who accuse the president of trying to impose new federal expenditures.”

“Obama lanza un ambicioso plan contra el cambio climático”, La Nación, August 3, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1815693-obama-lanza-un-ambicioso-plan-contra-el-cambio-climatico

La Nación

Obama and Climate Change (editorial)

“Four months before the Paris Summit on Climate Change, the American president, Barack Obama, has modified the historical course of his environmental policy: he presented a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and boost investment in renewable energy.”

“It is the first time an American head of state imposes drastic limits to the emissions of power plants…It is an action that Obama himself has categorized as a ‘moral duty’ of his government.”

“Republican criticism claims these are irresponsible measures, which will destroy jobs and will increase energy prices… However, as shown by the International Panel on Climate Change, countries can actually foster sustainable economic growth while at the same time reducing the immense risks associated with climate change.”

“If the United Stated lead this process, the probabilities of mitigating the changes in climate, which are already inevitable, will be greater. It is an inspiring initiative that the international community had been waiting for since the signature of the Kyoto Protocol. It is an opportunity to change course towards a low-carbon economy and a sign of commitment on the way to Paris.”

“Obama y el cambio climático”, La Nación, August 5, 2015, accessed August 5, 2015,



The Age

Barack Obama unveils ambitious climate plan (news article)

“The move signals that Mr Obama is determined to use the full force of his authority to act on climate change in the last 18 months of his presidency. It confirms that he believes that only by taking strong domestic action will the US be in a position to lead the world in coming to an agreement to significantly reduce global carbon emissions in the upcoming Paris climate talks.”

Nick O’Malley, “Barack Obama unveils ambitious climate plan”, The Age, August 5, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/world/barack-obama-unveils-ambitious-climate-plan-20150803-giqsly.html#ixzz3hsmMXt2w

Business Review

Obama’s climate policy would shut Latrobe Valley (news article)

“The adoption of the United States President Barack Obama’s tough new carbon targets on power stations in Australia would result in the closure of Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. But it might not reduce Australia’s reliance on coal, analysts said.”

“Grattan Institute’s energy program director Tony Wood said the US was different from Australia because they had an abundance of cheap gas which made it easier to become less reliant on coal-fired power.”

Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters said President Obama’s clean energy plan should be an urgent wake-up call to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

‘Tony Abbott’s climate denialism is to blame for Australia missing out on the renewable energy opportunities in employment and trade that other countries are rapidly embracing,’ Senator Water said on Tuesday.”

Mark Ludlow, “Obama’s climate policy would shut Latrobe Valley”, Financial Review, August 5, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.afr.com/news/politics/obamas-climate-policy-would-shut-latrobe-valley-20150803-giqv7v


Folha de São Paulo

Obama to Announce New Plan to Combat Climate Change (news article)

“Despite Obama’s optimistic speech, the proposal must face sharp criticism from his political rivals and the industrial sector. Climate change is a hot topic in the presidential campaign, as energy from coal, one of the dirtiest, is the base of the American industry.”

“Many Republicans question, moreover, the existence of global warming and doubt their effects could be cause by human action.”

AFP, “Obama anunciará novo plano de combate à mudança climática”, Folha de São Paulo, August 2, 2014, accessed August 3, 2015,


Folha de São Paulo

Under Judicial Threat, Obama Launches Ambitious Clean Energy Plan (news article)

“This initiative should be understood as part of Obama’s efforts to build his legacy, and will impact the 2016 presidential campaign.”

“The announcement is also a gesture to lead the global debate over climate change…The White House has already announced joint measures with China in 2014 and with Brazil last month…With this plan, Obama tries to lead the COP 21 discussion.”

Thais Bilenky, “Sob ameaça judicial, Obama lança plano ambicioso de energia limpa”, Folha de São Paulo, August 2, 2014, accessed August 3, 2015, http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mundo/2015/08/1663881-sob-ameaca-judicial-obama-lanca-plano-ambicioso-de-energia-limpa.shtml

Folha de São Paulo

Obama and the elections in the USA will carry more weight than the Paris Conference, Eduardo Viola, Professor at the Institute of International Relations at the University of Brasilia (opinion)

“It is an important goal in the American context – with a Congress dominated by conservatives — nonetheless limited if we consider that the European Union’s target is to reduce total emissions 40% by 2030, with 1990 as base year – an objective 60% larger than the American.”

“The plan aims, also, to increase the American influence in the Paris Conference in December 2015. On one hand, forcing other large (China, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil and Indonesia) and medium emitters (South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and South Africa) to take on more ambitious commitments. On the other hand, disputing the leadership of the conference with the historic leader – the European Union.”

“All in all, the result of this repositioning process of the USA in the global arena of the de-carbonization of the world economy will depend on the Democratic victory in the presidential and legislative elections of November 2016…From the point of view of the profound dynamic of the international system, even more important that the specific result of the Paris Conference will be the Democratic victory in the 2016 election.”

Eduardo Viola, “O legado de Obama e eleições nos EUA pesarão mais que conferência de Paris”, Folha de São Paulo, August 5, 2015, accessed August 5, 2015, http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mundo/2015/08/1664204-o-legado-de-obama-as-eleicoes-nos-eua-e-a-conferencia-de-paris.shtml

Folha de São Paulo

Environmental plan ‘rescues credibility’ of the USA, but divides country (news article)

“With the agreements (signed with China, Brazil and other countries), Obama expects to get to the next UN climate meeting with a stronger position to negotiate global goals.”

“The recently-announced plan increases the credibility of the USA in the climate negotiations, says Matt McGrath, BBC Climate Analyst.”

BBC Brazil, “Plano ambiental ‘resgata credibilidade’ dos EUA, mas divide país”, Folha de São Paulo, August 5, 2015, accessed August 5, 2015,


O Globo

US Presents Most Ambitious Program in its History Against Climate Change (news article)

“Obama’s new rules will not be enough to save the planet from climate chaos…Measures similar to those proposed by the American president have to be adopted by leaders of other big polluters, such as India and China. And Obama’s successor must be even more intolerant of GHGs…”

“Obama expects to use his new plan to put pressure on other countries to adopt ambitious emission reduction goals…It is a relevant diplomatic step only months ahead of Paris. This can act as a lever to other big economies: China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia.”

Renato Grandelle, “EUA apresentam programa mais ambicioso de sua História contra as mudanças climáticas”, O Globo, August 3, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015,



Contributors: Zhou Quan, Miaomiao Shao and Tour Zhang, SIPA alumni

China News

US power companies for the first time to limit carbon emissions (news article)

“Obama had to use executive powers to bypass Congress in order to implement emissions reductions.”

“Obama’s clean electricity plan was strongly opposed by the Republican Party, which believes it ‘goes too far’, ‘is too harsh’, and will bring ‘devastating consequences’ to the US economy.”

“Addressing climate change is one of the political legacies Obama wants to leave.”

“美国首次对发电企业碳排放作出限”, China News, August 4, 2015, accessed August 5, 2015, http://www.chinanews.com/ny/2015/08-04/7446896.shtml

Money 163

Obama energy plan: analysts said the plan is to achieve Republican opposition (news article)

“Vice president of International Relations School at Renmin University of China Professor Jin Canrong believes that if Obama can convince Congress to pass the final bill, the task of US carbon emissions will be clearer, the role will be more active.”

 “Jin: ‘(In the context of) President Obama’s visit to China, (it was) a major achievement that the two presidents decided to work together in terms of energy conservation, (and) China and the US should work together this year to propose a reduction program at the Paris conference. Moreover, China has made more specific commitments that have technical indicators, this might, more or less, put certain pressure on the United States. Since the moment Obama proposed this idea to the final bill, it will go through a very complex process of political game. Overall, I think this will make the task of US carbon emissions more clear, although a little late, but the global efforts to prevent global warming, reduce carbon emissions is a positive message’.”

“Professor Jin Canrong believes that international pressure coupled with personal thoughts, as well as the original campaign promises, are one of the main driving force.”

“奥巴马清洁能源计划遭共和党反对 分析称计划实现不乐观”, Money 163, August 4, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://money.163.com/15/0804/07/B05KFPV300254TI5.html


Obama’s energy plan hits coal enterprises. US second-largest coal company goes bankrupt (news article)

“(Alpha Natural Resources) declared bankruptcy on Monday. In the past seven years, the company’s total debt ascended to $ 3.3 billion. The timing of the company’s bankruptcy declaration is very subtle, just before the Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules.”

奥巴马清洁能源计划冲击美国煤企 第二大煤矿破产”, Huanbao, August 4, 2015, accessed August 5, 2015, http://huanbao.bjx.com.cn/news/20150804/648969.shtml

Sina News

Obama will announce the United States the most stringent emission reduction measures (news article)

“Obama is putting forward the strictest clean energy solutions. It’s considered a rescue action to climate.”

“Obama will announce the United States the most stringent emission reduction measures”, Sina News, August 3, 2015, accessed August 5, 2015, http://news.sina.cn/2015-08-03/detail-ifxfpcyp5401577.d.html?from=mbaidu&stun=20007&vt=4


Le Monde

Climate Change, Barack Obama’s Great Challenge (news article)

“French president François Hollande said the first plan ever to limit US power plant emissions would be a ‘major contribution to the success’ of the 30 November – 11 December UN conference his country will host to ink a new global climate deal.

“Hollande hailed Obama’s ‘courage’ in the face of Republican recriminations and the threat of legal action by the lobby group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.”

“Le changement climatique, grand « défi » de Barack Obama”, Le Monde, August 3, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015, http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2015/08/03/le-charbon-au-c-ur-de-la-problematique-climatique-aux-etats-unis_4709903_3244.html

Le Monde

Climate: Obama sets the example (editorial)

“François Hollande dreams about it, Barack Obama proves it: a second and final term in office allows you to take initiatives formerly deemed too risky. After restoring relations with Cuba and negotiating the agreement with Iran, the American President has just introduced an ambitious plan to reduce polluting sources of energy and to tackle global warming.”

“In 2014, he managed to convince Beijing to commit to an indispensable limitation of GHG emissions; today, he sets the example at home. For the UN, as well as for the French president that will host this conference, it’s a forceful reinforcement.”

“Mr. Obama’s determination did not fell from the sky. In the last ten years, the shale gas revolution has shaken the American reign of coal…This new equation allows for a transition that avoids a brutal questioning of the energy-bulimic American way of life.”

“However, Mr. Obama’s energy policy does not lack ambiguities or contradictions. Proof of this is the authorization granted to the offshore exploration of the Arctic, in this case benefiting the Shell giant. Now the largest producer of hydrocarbons thanks to shale oil and gas, the United States does not plan to give up this comparative advantage, no matter the price to the environment.”

“Climat: Obama donne l’example”, Le Monde, August 5, 2015, accessed August 5, 2015, http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2015/08/05/climat-obama-donne-l-exemple_4712544_3232.html?xtmc=obama&xtcr=4

Le Figaro

Barack Obama Hardens His Plan in Favor of Climate (news article)

“Not having to campaign for a new term, the president of the United States dares to engage in a sensitive political terrain with the objective to speed up the reduction of GHG emissions…Face to the upcoming conference in Paris, the White House tries to position the USA as a leading country in the battle against climate change”

Pierre-Yves Dugua, “Barack Obama durcit son plan en faveur du climat”, Le Figaro, August 4, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/2015/08/03/20002-20150803ARTFIG00315-barack-obama-durcit-son-plan-en-faveur-du-climat.php


Der Spiegel

Climate Plan of the US Government: Obama’s fight against tons of coal (commentary)

“In order for the plan not to fail in the Republican-dominated Congress, it shall not be enforced as a law but a regulation…And just as Obama may introduce the new climate rules without the consent of the Congress, a new President could abolish it relatively easy again.”

“Then put above all the influential Koch brothers. Their widespread industrial conglomerate Koch Industries, which is building oil pipelines and manufactures chemicals with high-energy inputs…is unlikely to be happy with the US decision to take CO2 emission seriously. Their hope: a Republican in the White House. The two generous donors Republican politicians are unlikely to have more urgent goals than to prevent Obama’s Climate Plan.”

“Whether Obama is perceived by history as a pioneer of climate protection or as a failed environmental politician, depend less on him than on his successor”.

Alexander Demling, “Klimaplan der US-Regierung: Obamas Kampf gegen jede Menge Kohle”, Der Spiegel, August 3, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015


Der Spiegel

Obama’s Climate Plan: A Little Climate Rescue (commentary)

“Too little, too late… The master stroke for which the US President would like to be celebrated, the new rules for coal-fired plants are not certain.”

“States do not have to reduce at all before 2022 – long after the end of Obama’s term.”

“The US Environmental Protection Agency takes the figures for 2005 as comparative figures for emission reductions. This is not an accident but a very deliberate choice…In the US, 2005 was a boom year for CO2, and since then the output has in any case already fallen by more than 15 percent. [This is in part due to] the financial crisis and the recession, and especially to the controversial fracking boom”

“In addition, coal-fired power plants are responsible for almost a third of the total amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted in the United States. Therefore, Obama’s Climate Plan would only result in a drop of six percent compared to the current CO2 emissions of the country…”

“[C]ountries like China register very carefully how Washington acts.”

“The US president has shown that he is willing to take on the coal industry. The German government, for comparison, has shelved similar attempts pretty quickly. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) and CSU chief Horst Seehofer buried four weeks ago plans for a punitive levy on old coal-fired plants.”

Christoph Seidler, “Obamas Klimaplan: Ein bisschen Klimarettung”, Der Spiegel, August 4, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/barack-obamas-klimaplan-ein-kleiner-schritt-a-1046626.html


Obama Tries to Be the Climate President (news article)

“The German Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks welcomed the Obama initiative. “The move shows that President Obama considers the issue of climate change as one of the priority themes for his second term,” said the SPD politician. This is also an important signal for the climate change conference in Paris.”

“Obama versucht sich 
als Klima-Präsident”, Bild, August 3, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/barack-obama/will-die-klimaziele-verschaerfen-42051088.bild.html


Contributors: Harsh Vijay Singh and Abhisheik Dhawan, SIPA alumni

The Economic Times | The India Times

Barack Obama to Unveil Tougher Climate Change Plan (news article)

“Industry groups and some lawmakers from states that have relied on coal-based energy have vowed to challenge the new requirements in the courts and through Congressional maneuvers”

“Critics are expected to argue that lower-income Americans will bear the heaviest burden of compliance.”

“The Clean Power Plan is a vital component of meeting the US pledge on emissions cuts for negotiations on a global climate change agreement that will be held in Paris at the end of this year.”

Reuters, “Barack Obama to Unveil Tougher Climate Change Plan”, The Economic Times, August 3, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://ecoti.ms/fl2Cbb

The Hindu

Obama to announce steeper emissions cuts for power plants (news article)

“The focus on renewables marks a significant shift from the earlier version that sought to accelerate the ongoing shift from coal-fired power to natural gas, which emits far less carbon dioxide. The final rule aims to keep the share of natural gas in the nation’s power mix the same as it is now.”

“By clamping down on power plant emissions, Mr. Obama is also working to increase his leverage and credibility with other nations whose commitments he’s seeking for a global climate treaty to be finalized later this year in Paris.”

“Even before the rule was finalised, more than a dozen states announced plans to fight it. At the urging of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, some Republican governors have declared they’ll simply refuse to comply, setting up a certain confrontation with the EPA, which by law can force its own plan on states that fail to submit implementation plans.”

“With the end of Mr. Obama’s presidency drawing nearer, his climate efforts have become increasingly entangled in the next presidential election. The power plant rule won’t go into effect until long after Obama leaves office, putting its implementation in the hands of his successor. Among other Republican critics, 2016 candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has said he would drastically scale down the EPA if elected and shift most of its duties to state regulators.”

AP, “Obama to announce steeper emissions cuts for power plants”, The Hindu, August 2, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015, http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/us-president-barack-obama-on-monday-will-impose-steeper-cuts-on-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-power-plants/article7491807.ece


El País

Change of Course in Environmental Policy (opinion)

“Obama had declared climate change was one of his priorities once in the White House back in 2009, but the legislative battles about health reform, the initial defeat of his immigration proposals, and the weight of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan left environmental policy off the main stage.”

“The Democrat leader will make it to history books for passing the first limit to carbon emission in the second largest polluter in the world. But Obama has also gave green light to carbon extraction in the Arctic.”

Cristina F. Pereda, “Cambio de rumbo en política ambiental”, El País, August 3, 2015, accesses August 3rd, 2015, http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2015/08/03/actualidad/1438622466_002264.html

El País

Bold Obama (editorial)

“Suddenly, the road to an agreement on emissions reduction in Paris next December has started to clear up. First, it was Pope Francis and his ecological encyclical; now it is Obama and his plan for reducing emissions by 1/3 in 2030 based on 2005 levels. It is worth noting that they both entail clear support if alternative sources of energy.”

“If in the case of Pope Francis it is his moral and spiritual authority that is brought to bear in the extraordinary repercussion of his green encyclical, in the case of US president its is his political authority in two directions: face to the international scene, it complements the bilateral agreement with China, guarantees multilateral success in Paris, and encourages new big polluters (i.e. emerging economies); in terms of domestic politics, it challenges denial and reactionary position of the Republican candidates, which will impact the primaries and have an even stronger effect in the presidential campaign in 2016.”

“This is some of the best news in relation to the efforts towards reducing emissions…at least since Copenhagen, where Obama was an unlucky debutant and the European Union disappeared as a global actor in environmental debates. It is also [good news] for president Obama, who is overthrowing the rule of sterile, negative second mandates; and for world leadership and the perspectives or a better global governance in an issues that affects…economies, health and security.”

“Obama audaz”, El País, August 4, 2015, accesses August 4, 2015,



Gulf News

Clean Power Plan is late step in the right direction (editorial)

“US needs to show it is committed to environment if it hopes for emerging markets to follow suit.”

“The US Clean Power Plan (…) is the type of environmental agenda that all countries should be setting. It’s unfortunate that such action has taken so long in coming from the world’s economic leader.”

“Obama calls the plan the “biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken,” but the dramatic language will not alleviate the resentment many feel regarding the US’s previous track record on climate change policies.”

“Some may point out that US actions are “better late than never,” but under the new limits, late is still the key word. US states, which can seek up to a two-year extension without penalty, are expected to delay, despite incentives for early compliance ahead of the 2022 deadline.”

“The US needs to abandon its half-hearted approach to such reforms. Only a committed agenda will have any chance of convincing the world’s emerging markets, where pollution reforms are even more urgently needed, to follow suit.”

“Clean Power Plan is late step in the right direction”, Gulf News, August 3, 2015, accessed August 6, 2015, http://gulfnews.com/opinion/editorials/clean-power-plan-is-late-step-in-the-right-direction-1.1560715


The Guardian

The Guardian view on climate change: Obama’s plan is overdue but welcome all the same (editorial)

“[President Obama’s] proposals are neither new nor radical, but deserve to be strongly supported, both in America and across the globe. Explicitly, the statement was a challenge to state governors, to Republican senators and congressmen, to fossil-fuel barons, to entrepreneurs who want to invest in renewable sources of energy, and to citizens who want to hang on to their homes and their jobs.”

“Implicitly, it was assurance to the rest of the world that there could be real agreement at the next United Nations climate conference in Paris in December.”

“There will be legal and administrative challenges, from at least a dozen states, maybe two dozen. Americans who do not believe that climate change is a real hazard, and those who accept the science but not the solutions, are hardly likely to change their minds because of yet another fiat from the White House.

“President Obama’s initiative may seem extreme to some Americans, but not to the Royal Meteorological Society, nor the Geological Society of London, nor the Royal Society of Chemistry. These all want to see an end to all emissions by 2050, a world in which carbon dioxide levels stabilise, and perhaps begin to fall. President Obama’s step is therefore very welcome. But it is just a step. There is still a long way to go, and not much time left.”

“The Guardian view on climate change: Obama’s plan is overdue but welcome all the same”, The Guardian, August 4, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015,


The Daily Telegraph

Barack Obama unveils plan to tackle greenhouse gases and climate change (article)

“Plans for how states will comply are technically due next year, but there’s no penalty to asking for a two-year extension, leaving the door open to foot-dragging from states that wish to resist the new targets.”

“The targets are also likely to become a political football in the next general election campaign since the next occupant of the White House will be responsible for enforcing the new rules.”

Peter Foster, “Barack Obama unveils plan to tackle greenhouse gases and climate change”, The Daily Telegraph, August 3, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/11779765/Barack-Obama-to-unveil-tougher-plan-to-tackle-greenhouse-gases-and-climate-change.html

The Independent

Obama reveals new climate change initiative: ‘We only get one planet. There is no Plan B’ (opinion)

“As he approaches the twilight of his two-term presidency, Mr Obama has increasingly turned to the powers of his own office to enact his agenda sidelining Congress. While the strategy, similarly employed to enact changes in immigration law, inevitably invites legal challenges, he has shown growing confidence that in the end the courts will side with him.”

“He hopes that setting tougher pollution limits at home will give him the moral high ground in Paris in December where a new global UN emissions accord is due to be signed. It is a startling turn-around from the days when the US was widely regarded as a laggard on climate change issues, thanks in part to its failure to join the 1997 Kyoto Treaty.”

David Usborne, “Obama reveals new climate change initiative: ‘We only get one planet. There is no Plan B’”, The Independent, August 3, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/obama-reveals-new-climate-change-initiative-we-only-get-one-planet-there-is-no-plan-b-10436273.html?origin=internalSearch

US climate change initiative: President Barack Obama’s legacy will be written in history, Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solarcentury (opinion)

“Politicians seeking enduring legacies have to be lucky with their timing. I believe history will show Barack Obama has.”

“First, forgetting climate change for the moment, Silicon Valley and its equivalents around the world have clearly decided how the future looks, and it is manifestly clean and green. Apple and Google have both invested more than $1bn in renewables. Tesla took $800m of indicative orders within a week of announcing its new battery products. Investment banks are saying the fossil fuel game is up, and the first two major energy firms (E.ON, GdF Suez) agree, announcing U-turns in their business model.”

“Then there are perhaps the US President’s two biggest allies: Beijing and Rome. The Chinese government fears climate change enough to co-operate bilaterally on multiple fronts with the US. Pope Francis in his recent encyclical has as good as told Catholics to worry about their souls if they maintain course with carbon profligacy. It will be interesting to see how the US religious right deals with that, especially with an election in the offing. One in four Americans is Catholic.”

Jeremy Leggett, “US climate change initiative: President Barack Obama’s legacy will be written in history”, The Independent, August 3, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/us-climate-change-initiative-president-barack-obamas-legacy-will-be-written-in-history-10436455.html


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