President Barack Obama told a crowd in Berlin that the U.S. “will do more” to combat global warming, stressing the need for an international effort to stem rising global temperatures.
“Our generation must move towards a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late, that is our job, that is our task,” Obama told his Berlin audience. “We know we have to do more and we will do more.”
“With a global middle class consuming more energy every day, this must now be an effort of all nations, not just some,” Obama added. “For the grim alternative affects all nations. More severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise.”
The Obama administration has been criticized by environmentalists for not moving fast enough to address global warming, including not blocking the Keystone XL pipeline.
Yet the administration has placated groups looking to sue the Environmental Protection Agency to force the creation of new rules on carbon dioxide emissions by announcing it will unveil a plan to combat global warming later this summer.
Critics have speculated that this unveiling will coincide with the administration’s Keystone decision, perhaps indicating that the pipeline may be approved in exchange for a renewed effort to tackle global warming.
“It’s like saying we’re going to cut the left leg off and say you can have your right leg,” National Wildlife Federation president Larry Schweiger said.
“If he goes against his own interests and goes the opposite [on Keystone], he will now have those who believed in him questioning what the hell happened,” California billionaire and environmentalists Tom Steyer told Politico. “And the people who vehemently opposed him still vehemently oppose him. There’s no trade with anybody there. And actually, being right on one gives you more power on the other.”
The administration has taken some small steps to address global warming, including reaching an agreement with China to curb ozone emissions.
The EPA has also been active on the regulatory front, issuing new regulations that target carbon-intensive industries such as the coal industry.
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a partnership of industry groups, reported that more than 280 coal-fired generating units will be shut down partly due to stricter regulations.
Most recently, the EPA has come under fire from all sides over proposed limits on power plant emissions. Republicans and businesses argue that this would effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they utilize uneconomical emissions technology, and environmentalists have attacked the agency for delaying the rule.
“The new regulations attempt to force standards on coal emissions that would not only be incredibly expensive, but impossible to achieve even with advanced technology,” said West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. “Even worse, there would be no benefit from these new regulations.”
“The delay in completing the carbon pollution standards for new power plants is regrettable, but despite industry hopes, there is no actual evidence that EPA is planning to weaken its proposal,” said David Doniger, policy director with NRDC’s air quality program. “It is critical that EPA finish building a strong record to protect last year’s proposal from the polluters’ legal challenges. Yet further delay is also unacceptable because our country is already experiencing the ravages of climate change.”
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