Another leading climate change group, 350.org, said that power plant regulation by itself is not enough. “Taking on King Coal is the easy part,” 350.org spokesman Jamie Henn wrote in an email. “It’s standing up to Big Oil that will require real courage. That’s why decisions on things like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and Arctic drilling are so important — they’re the true test of climate leadership for this and any future presidents."
Similarly, Greenpeace described the new emissions rules as “an important step forward … [but] woefully inadequate on its own.”
“If the Obama administration is serious about leaving behind both a positive climate legacy and a habitable planet for our children, it will stop the drilling and mining of publicly owned fossil fuels and reject Shell Oil’s dangerous Arctic oil drilling plan,” said Greenpeace U.S. Executive Director Annie Leonard in a statement.
Electricity production is responsible for nearly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The next two largest polluters are transportation and industry, which account for 27 percent and 21 percent of such emissions, respectively.
The Obama administration’s new climate rules, which target power plants, will result in a 6 percent reduction in emissions nationwide by 2030, according to calculations by the website Vox.
That may not be enough to keep global warming in check. The Union of Concerned Scientists said in a 2007 report that, in one scenario, “the world’s industrialized nations will have to reduce their emissions an average of 70 to 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050” in order to keep the global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels.
The White House's Clean Power Plan comes months ahead of a planned United Nations climate change summit in Paris, France, scheduled for December. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded Obama's new power plant standards on Monday, saying that the president had displayed "visionary leadership."
The Clean Power Plan "recognizes the obligation we all have to leave future generations a planet which provides opportunities for sustainable development," Ban Ki-moon spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a Monday press conference.