President Obama’s determination to reduce US power plant emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030 sends a message to world leaders that the UN climate talks in Paris could – just – succeed.
Past talks have foundered on a range of political excuses, but now that the world’s two largest polluters, China and the US, have committed to far-reaching changes in their energy production to keep the world below the dangerous threshold of a 2C temperature increase, the door is open for all the rest to follow.
The stumbling block to US action so far has been the refusal of die-hard members of the Republican Party to accept that climate change is happening, and the well-funded fossil fuel lobby’s legal and political campaign to block any legislation.
But Barack Obama’s use of an existing law − the Clean Air Act of 1970 − has allowed him tobypass Republican opposition simply by issuing new regulations.
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Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous parallels have been drawn between this health crisis and the climate crisis. Science plays an important role in advising decision makers on how to ensure sustainable crisis management and a precautionary approach to avoid harmful repercussions, particularly where we do not yet know all the consequences of our actions. [...]
Decarbonisation won’t come as fast as the pandemic. But if fossil fuel exporters are not prepared for it, they will face an enduring crisis. The EU can help.
Stories of clear skies and wildlife conquering urban areas might provide much needed comfort during these uncertain times as the health crisis unfolds. But in Brazil, where climate and environmental issues already lack attention and resources, the pandemic underscores the next crisis.
Solutions to the current COVID-19 crisis need to be aligned to those of the climate crisis for a global transformation towards more sustainability, resilience, equity, and justice. Climate diplomacy has the tools to achieve these objectives simultaneously.