Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 3, 2015

Contact:Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364,

Obama Climate Rules Provide Key Legal Framework But Don't
Curb Carbon Pollution Quickly Enough

President Obama Must Increase U.S. Emission Reduction Pledge to Boost Paris Climate Talks

WASHINGTON— Final rules unveiled today by President Barack Obama to cut power-plant carbon pollution establish an important, legally supported framework for addressing climate change but, alone, still won’t curb emissions quickly enough to prevent climate change’s worst effects.

“President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is fully supported by the Clean Air Act, but winning this fight requires bigger cuts to the pollution that has our planet on the ropes,” said Vera Pardee of the Center for Biological Diversity. “While the plan should have been stronger and implemented reductions more quickly, it lays a solid legal foundation for further efforts to avoid global warming’s most dangerous consequences.”

America will reap enormous benefits from cutting power plant pollution and fighting climate change. Opponents’ claims that the Clean Power Plan will cause economic harm ignore scientific research showing the crippling costs global warming will impose on the economy, human health and the environment.

The nation’s fleet of power plants is by far the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. The Clean Power Plan is the most significant piece so far in the overall puzzle of curbing carbon emissions in the United States.

But the plan’s current targets and time line for cuts fall short of what is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Scientists warn that by 2030, developed countries must reduce their economy-wide emissions by an average of 42 percent to 68 percent below 1990 levels, based on a range of assumptions about sharing the global climate effort in a way that’s fair.

By comparison, the Clean Power Plan reduces emissions by some 10 percent below 1990 levels over that same time frame. The final plan also delays the timeline for compliance, giving states until 2022 to start showing reductions.

The Clean Power Plan also will be the centerpiece of the U.S. contribution to the hoped-for international climate agreement in Paris this December. “Though we’re gratified to see stronger targets for the power sector in the final Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration needs to arrive in Paris with a far more ambitious economy-wide goal,” Pardee said.

The Center is urging the administration to find additional ways to increase renewable and energy conservation targets, reduce rather than potentially expand reliance on natural gas, increase energy efficiency at power plants, and speed up the implementation schedule.

“The world is watching President Obama lay out his plans for cutting carbon pollution,” Pardee said. “Implementing the Clean Power Plan is essential for international cooperation. But the president must work to cut U.S. emissions faster and more deeply to help create a fair and ambitious international climate agreement.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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