Obama to announce climate plan

Barack Obama will unveil a national climate change plan on Tuesday, offering the first real glimpse of how he intends to make good on one of the most stirring promises of his inaugural address.

In a video posted on the White House web site on Saturday, the U.S. President reiterated his view that climate change was the challenge of a generation. The goals he will outline in his speech at Georgetown University will be equally ambitious, encompassing “a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it”, Mr. Obama said.

There will likely be strong reactions from Republicans in Congress, who oppose action on climate change as well as from fellow Democrats. Some campaigners will also doubtless argue Mr. Obama should do much more to stop global warming.

In concrete terms, there is widespread expectation Mr. Obama will announce he is using his executive powers as President to direct federal government agencies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and to encourage energy efficiency.

He is also expected to step up government programmes promoting the expansion of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power especially on public land.

The video also seemed to suggest that Mr. Obama would seek to involve his council of scientific advisors in drawing up a strategy for protecting American cities and coastlines from the worst consequences of climate change.

Some of the policy elements in Mr. Obama’s address were previewed earlier in the week in a speech by the White House climate advisor, Heather Zichal.

In a forum sponsored by the New Republic magazine, Ms. Zichal suggested Mr. Obama would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

There was intense speculation ahead of Tuesday’s speech about whether Mr. Obama would promise to curb emissions of existing facilities. The President’s comments in a speech in Berlin this week seemed to suggest he was prepared for bolder action.

Ms. Zichal in her remarks this week also indicated EPA regulations would be part of Obama’s climate plan.

John Boehner, the house speaker, pre-empted the speech by several days, telling Fox news on Thursday it would be “absolutely crazy” to use the EPA to reduce carbon emissions. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2013

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