Obama Climate Plan Not Enough to Meet Magnitude of Global Crisis

For Immediate Release

Obama Climate Plan Not Enough to Meet Magnitude of Global Crisis

Proposal is a Modest Step But Pollution Cuts Insufficient to Prevent Dangers Predicted by Federal Scientists

WASHINGTON - President Obama’s new climate plan takes modest steps toward reducing carbon pollution, but the strategy announced today will not cut emissions enough to prevent catastrophic warming and extreme weather dangers predicted by federal scientists. A key point in the president’s plan is a vague directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to establish carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants — standards already required by law. The plan fails to address the Keystone XML pipeline, fracking on public lands and other dirty extreme-energy projects that could fatally undermine the climate change fight.

The Center for Biological Diversity today reiterated its call to halt Keystone XL immediately and establish a national pollution cap for carbon dioxide.

“We’re happy to see the president finally addressing climate change but the plain truth is that what he’s proposing isn't big enough, and doesn't move fast enough, to match the terrifying magnitude of the climate crisis,” said Bill Snape, the Center’s senior counsel.

Since Obama’s election in 2008, thousands of heat temperatures have been broken and headlines have been full of deadly floods and hurricanes, epic droughts and dire predictions from the president’s own scientists of more climate chaos to come if the crisis isn't met with ambitious steps to reduce carbon pollution.

The pollution control measures announced by the president today are aimed at fulfilling his administration’s pledge to put the United States on the path to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. But such a reduction falls far short of what the U.S. pledged in the Kyoto Protocol and would not be enough to avert catastrophic temperature rises, according to climate scientists.

“The president, like all of us, needs to be able to look across the dinner table at his children and know he’s doing all he can to ensure they inherit a planet that’s healthy and livable,” Snape said. “This plan is a small step in the right direction but certainly begs for something bigger and bolder.”

By 2050, when today’s teenagers are in their 50s and 60s, climate change will be imposing harsh new problems on America unless deep pollution cuts are achieved, according to the draft National Climate Assessment, a federal scientific report released earlier this year:

  • Rising sea levels and increased risk of storm surges will threaten more than $1 trillion worth of buildings and infrastructure on the coasts.
  • An additional 4,300 people could be killed each year by health problems caused by increased ground-level ozone.
  • Yields of major U.S. crops will likely decline because of rising temperatures and increased drought and flooding.
  • The number of days with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit could double, posing major health risks to children and the elderly.

To achieve the necessary emission reductions, the Center is urging the Obama administration to declare carbon dioxide a “criteria pollutant” under the Clean Air Act and set a national pollution cap for CO2at no greater than 350 parts per million (ppm). Many independent scientists have concluded that atmospheric CO2levels above 350 ppm will cause catastrophic global warming.

This “carbon cap” would not require new legislation. The Center is also urging pollution caps for six other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide.

“Strong rhetoric and politically comfortable half-measures won't achieve what scientists tell us must be done to address the climate problem,” said Snape. “The White House can't punt on hard climate questions, from the carbon cap to Keystone XL, Arctic drilling and fracking on public lands. It’s time for strong action and strong leadership.”

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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