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Obama acts on climate before Abbott visit


Source: AFR, 2 June 2014

President Barack Obama will commence a fresh campaign for renewed global action on climate change by outlining plans to cut American carbon emissions, creating a potentially awkward backdrop to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first visit to the White House.

Mr Obama over the weekend talked up the Environmental Protection Agency’s scheduled Monday release of a major new regulation to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, a move vigorously opposed by the coal industry and many Republicans, who warn it will damage the economy.

“As president, and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” Mr Obama said.

“The shift to a cleaner-energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But a low-carbon, clean-energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. America will build that engine.”

After failing to persuade Congress to implement a cap-and-trade pollution reduction scheme, Mr Obama is determined to make addressing climate change a legacy of his final 2½ years in office.

In a major foreign policy speech last week, he pledged to “make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet” for the United Nations climate change conference in Paris next year.

His passion for addressing climate change is at odds with Mr Abbott, who has vowed to repeal the carbon tax after campaigning strongly on the issue at last year’s federal election, which he won easily.