What does the world think about new US carbon cuts?

Reaction from ministers, UN officials and NGOs as White House unveils plan to cut CO2 pollution


Marshall Islands’ Foreign Minister Tony de Brum

“Symbolically, I hear the President saying that he’s ready to deliver on his promise to put the fight against global warming at the top of his list of political priorities.

And in practical terms, the announcement strikes right at the heart of the climate change problem – in the US, 40% of emissions come from coal-fired power plants, and the number is even higher in the world’s biggest polluter, China.

“The next big step would be for President Obama to come to the UN Climate Change Summit in September with his new targets and his message that strong action to reduce carbon pollution and decarbonize the world’s energy systems is in all of our economic, health and security interests.  It’s a war we must win, and the long fight starts now.” 

Former US Vice President Al Gore

Today’s announcement by the Obama administration to reduce our nation’s global warming pollution from power plants is the most important step taken to combat the climate crisis in our country’s history. Solving the climate crisis will no doubt be difficult, but – thanks to this action by President Obama and many others – we are now in a position to put ourselves on the path to a sustainable future.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres

“The decision by President Obama to launch plans to more tightly regulate emissions from power plants will send a good signal to nations everywhere that one of the world’s biggest emitters is taking the future of the planet and its people seriously.

“It is also a good signal for the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September and towards securing a new and more importantly meaningful climate agreement by the UN convention meeting in Paris in late 2015.

“I fully expect action by the United States to spur others in taking concrete action—action that can set the stage and put in place the pathways that can bend the global emissions curve down in order to keep world-wide temperature rise under 2 degrees C this century”.

Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute

“These standards will catalyze investment in America’s thriving clean energy industry. In Georgia, Minnesota and New Mexico renewable energy has emerged as the cheaper option for new electricity generation. The same holds true in Texas, which now has more wind power capacity than all but five countries.

“Earlier this year solar energy provided a record 18% of California’s energy demand. And studies show consumers save $2 to $5 for every single dollar invested in energy efficiency. Smart climate policy simply makes dollars and sense.

“Despite the usual grumbling from some critics, it’s abundantly clear that these rules can be implemented cost-effectively. Time and again opposition groups have made dire economic predictions about new regulations, when in fact they repeatedly drive innovation and open new economic opportunities.”

Evan Juska, Head of US Policy for The Climate Group

“While this kind of flexible approach enables greater emission reductions at lower cost, it also makes the rule more vulnerable to legal challenges. In finalizing the rule, the key challenge for the Administration will be finding the right balance between ambition and legality.”

Nicholas Stern, Chair of  the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment

“These new plans should help the United States to achieve its target of reducing annual emissions of greenhouse gases from all sources by 17 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005. This represents real leadership both by Gina McCarthy, the head of the EPA, and President Obama, who have shown their determination not to let deadlock in Congress prevent progress by the world’s leading economy in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.

“It underscores the role that both regulation and carbon pricing have to play in reducing emissions. This welcome news also means that the largest sources of emissions, China, the United States and the European Union, are all approximately on track to meet the targets that they agreed to at the United Nations climate change summit in Cancùn in 2010.

“However, as the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear, the United States, China and European Union all need to increase the ambition of their emissions cuts to be consistent with the overall goal of delivering a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous global warming of more than 2 centigrade degrees above pre-industrial levels.

“These plans should put pressure on European leaders to stop dithering over their plans and to commit to strong cuts of 40 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. It is strong policy that can foster the investment and innovation that will drive the new story of low-carbon growth.”

Lou Leonard, WWF-US vice president of climate change

“The recent US climate assessment shows that human-caused global warming is biting the country today, not in some distant future. So it makes common sense that today, the Obama Administration should use all of the tools available to protect our communities from this clear and present threat.

“Dirty electricity is the largest source of industrial carbon pollution in America, while also threatening our children’s health and the natural world. Today’s proposed standards employ one of the most popular and successful US laws, the Clean Air Act, to tackle pollution from the dirtiest US power plants. Ambitious final standards will reap major rewards for people, nature, and the next generation of Americans that follow in our footsteps.

“These standards should be strengthened and finalized to ensure that the US can successfully meet existing and future targets for transitioning our nation to a renewable energy future. Strong US targets backed by clear action, like today’s proposed standards, will help secure actions from other nations, which together can produce the needed global effort prior to the UN climate meeting in Paris next year.”

Ed Davey, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

“This is a significant move by the Obama administration. National efforts are crucial in fighting climate change, and in the UK we’ve successfully cut industrial emissions, particularly from the power sector.

“We must strive to get all nations to rise to the urgency of the climate challenge. That way there’s a real chance the world can sign up to a new global climate deal in Paris next year. These US proposals have come at a crucial time, and could shift the global debate.”

Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group

“This announcement could be the key to breaking the climate deadlock. By the Obama Administration placing climate change front and centre today it could be the butterfly moment that sparks a chain of events that ripples across the globe and builds momentum for the international climate negotiations, the U.S. – China bilateral relationship on climate talks which could deliver a global agreement.

“In the US and elsewhere, the clean economy sector has been growing steadily at a time when much of the global economy has been sluggish. Let this be the announcement that will make the world wake up to the potential of the low carbon economy.”

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