The NY Times provides double coverage of Obama's emerging war on coal. First, the good news (for their Upper West Side readership) about Obama's proposed new EPA regulations:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Monday will announce one of the strongest actions ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change, a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, according to people briefed on the plan.
Because burning coal is the largest source of the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists blame for trapping heat in the atmosphere and dangerously warming the planet, the rule is expected to have a powerful environmental impact.
One little rule covering the US but not Europe, China or India? Please. If, I say IF Obama can leverage this into a global deal, then maybe it will be a drop or two in the bucket.
The Times comes home to reality in a news analysis piece accompanying the main story:
Trying to Reclaim Leadership on Climate Change
On Monday, Mr. Obama is bypassing Congress and taking one of the biggest steps any American president has ever taken on climate change, proposing new rules to cut emissions at power plants. Yet, by itself, the president’s plan will barely nudge the global emissions that scientists say are threatening the welfare of future generations.
“Is it enough to stop climate change? No,” said Ted Nordhaus, chairman of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental think tank in Oakland, Calif. “No political leader in the world has a serious agenda to do that.”
Powerful, yet ineffectual; somehow that captures the spirit of this administration.
It is clear Mr. Obama’s immediate goal is not to solve the emissions problem, but to get the country moving faster in the right direction. The new rule alone offers little hope that the United States and other nations can achieve cuts on a scale required to meet the internationally agreed limit on global warming. But experts say that achieving the pledge Mr. Obama made in Copenhagen — a 17 percent reduction in the nation’s greenhouse gases by 2020, compared with the 2005 level — would be quite likely, if his plan survives.
And will that be enough?
The world’s nations have set a goal to limit the warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial level. If that is to happen, many studies suggest that global emissions need to peak no later than 2020 and then begin to fall. Today, emissions are not falling nearly fast enough in the West, and those reductions are being swamped by a rapid rise in the East. Experts say that a global peak in 2020 is exceedingly unlikely, if not impossible — and that will be true even if the United States and other nations manage to keep the pledges they made in 2009.
Well into the 2020s, it will still be technically possible to meet the global warming target, but the longer nations put off taking bold action, the more expensive and disruptive it will be to do so once they finally get serious.
They do mention that fracking plus the economic collapse make 2005 an attractive baseline:
Thanks partly to a surfeit of natural gas that few people saw coming, emissions in the United States have already fallen 10 percent from 2005 levels and are still heading down, even without Mr. Obama’s new rule.
They forgot to mention the recession, but I didn't.