According to the White House, the US commitment to the cutting of greenhouse gases that was agreed as part of the Paris Agreement in December will not be affected by the setback delivered to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan by the supreme court.
Everyone from politicians to business leaders and green campaigners rallied to the president’s cause after the US Supreme Court put a temporary freeze on his new rules to clean up coal-fired power plants. The measure is one of the central parts of the president’s climate plan, called the Clean Power Plan.
Already, sources are saying that this issue will not have an effect on the US’s ability to follow up on its commitments to the recent climate change conference. Those outside the US are voicing their support for the country’s ability to follow up on its commitments with Miguel Arias Canete, the EU’s climate change commissioner saying that the EU will lead the way and enshrine the agreement into law as well as meeting with the US representative to discuss the effect that the ruling may have.
Lord Stern, a leading economist on climate change, said that he was unsurprised by the ‘vested interests’ of some in the US pulling together to attempt to stop Obama’s plan. But he also thought that the profound attractiveness of the transition to low-carbon economic growth would be irresistible to the US, alongside a world that is cleaner, safer and more prosperous.
Plan and effect
Under the Clean Power Plan, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be able to make coal-fired power stations to cut their CO2 emissions by around 30% by 2030. These would be the first limits to CO2 created from fossil fuel power in the US and faced opposition from some states as well as some businesses.
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favour of putting the measures on hold but the White House said this was mere a bump in the road. They also firmly believe that the measures agreed in Paris will be unaffected by the move.
Others weren’t so confident with the US Chamber of Commerce calling the move a ‘stunning rebuke’ to the administration and calling into question its ability to deliver on the Paris promises. At the moment, the US has agreed to cut back emissions by 26-28% by 2025 based on 2005 levels. But currently, the shortfall on this could be anywhere from 45% to 63% of the required figure.
However, the US is making steps in the right direction with the increase in renewables seen around the country. Last year saw a record amount of energy generated by solar power, overtaking natural gas production for the first time. Many of these systems were installed on houses around the country, showing that the American people are in favour of changing to renewables from fossil fuels. The percentage of energy produced from hydropower and from wind power is also set to increase again this year on last.