U.S. President Barack Obama has unveiled a comprehensive blueprint to combat rising seas and more frequent severe weather caused by climate change, including a long-awaited promise to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant at power plants.

The 21-page plan would expand production of solar and wind energy and includes billions of dollars in loan guarantees to develop cleaner fossil-fuel and other energy technologies. It also funds new efforts to armour communities against flooding, wildfires, and drought, and puts more emphasis on working with countries such as India and China to jointly lower emissions of gases that warm the atmosphere.

Surprisingly, he also said the controversial Keystone pipeline that would bring oil extracted from Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries should not be built if the overall result is more greenhouse gases.

The announcement builds on many of the President’s first-term initiatives and does not require approval of Congress, which has blocked efforts to pass legislation aimed at slowing global warming. However, the power plant rule, while short on specifics, is all but certain to face lawsuits, political opposition, and industry pressure.

Mr. Obama had directed the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon at new power plants, but it was not until Tuesday that he set in motion rules for existing power plants. He directed the EPA to complete rules within two years. However, the plan lacked specifics on how existing power plants would have to lower emissions.

The administration pledged four years ago to reduce carbon emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, and about 80 per cent lower by 2050, and Mr. Obama said his plan would help the nation reach those goals.

Mr. Obama also called for a renewed emphasis on adapting and preparing for climate change. — New York Times News Service