Obama unveils new strategies to slow climate change

President Barack Obama issued a new plan to combat climate change last week, listing a range of methods the United States can use to limit carbon emissions and other threats to a warming planet.

One of Obama’s biggest plans is to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to implement carbon pollution standards for power plants. According to the report, state and local governments have begun to take action, but there is no federal rule to cap carbon emissions.

“We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air or our water, but power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free,” Obama said in a statement to Georgetown University. “That’s not right, that’s not safe and it needs to stop.”

The president also hopes to double renewable electricity generation by 2020, which includes solar, wind and geothermal energy. The Department of Interior issued permits for 10 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands in 2012, and they will add another 10 over the next seven years. The Department of Defense will also lead as an example and add three gigawatts to military installations by 2025.

Transportation is another major industry Obama plans to address. According to the report, he will develop new fuel economy standards for large vehicles with a performance of about 54.5 miles per gallon by 2018. He also encouraged the use of electric cars.

“The fuel standards we set over the past few years mean that by the middle of the next decade, the cars and trucks we buy will go twice as far on a gallon of gas,” Obama said. “That means you’ll have to fill up half as often. We’ll all reduce carbon pollution … and in the coming months, we’ll partner with truck makers to do it again for the next generation of vehicles.”

Obama also proposed several other strategies, including the expansion of his Better Building’s Challenge, reducing methane and hydrofluorocarbons, and enhancing global cooperation. It is also important to prepare the U.S. for warmer conditions by managing droughts and reducing wildfire risks, he said.

But above all, he said he believes that climate change can only be prevented with the help of citizens. He encouraged people to “push back on misinformation” and “broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future.”

“Americans are not a people who look backwards,” Obama said. “We’re a people who look forward … what we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up, and speak up, and compel us to do what this moment demands.”

Andrew Mason of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency seconded Obama’s claim.

“The most important thing citizens can do to combat climate change is to make doing something about it an important part of their lives,” Mason said. “By working together, we can take steps that will protect our environment and create jobs, like increasing our use of sustainable, green energy.”

More information on Obama’s climate change plan: http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan.