EU Reacts to Obama’s Clean Power Plan

After the US EPA announced their plan to cut US power plant emissions 30% by 2030, the European Union (EU) reacts, praising the Emission Performance Standard (EPS) for its vision while serving as a “positive signal” to other countries.

”This proposed rule is the strongest action ever taken by the U.S. government to fight climate change,” the EU’s climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard said in a reaction statement. “If implemented as planned, this measure will help the country meet its 2020 emissions target.”

2020 emissions targets refer to reductions previously committed to by Obama which are well below the Kyoto Protocol commitments.

Hedegaard saw hope in Obama’s announcement for next year’s Paris summit which is intended to finalize a successor to the Kyoto deal which expired in 2012. “But for Paris to deliver what is needed to stay below a 2°C increase in global temperature, all countries, including the United States, must do even more than what this reduction trajectory indicates,” she said.

The new plan will cap greenhouse gas emissions from 1600 US power stations, even though 600 of them are powered by coal and around half may have difficulty meeting the new standard.

As well as cutting CO2 emissions, the new EPS anticipates a 1.5% annual increase in energy efficiency, and a reduction in particle, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen pollution by more than 25%, according to the US EPA.

The EPA also expects the new rule to cut electricity bills by 8% and avert as many as 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days, saving some $93 billion in the process.

Many European green groups though were energized Obama’s move, with 11 heavy-hitters including Greenpeace, WWF Europe and Birdlife putting out a statement calling for reciprocal EU action.

“Europe has long claimed leadership on climate action, but has seen rising emissions from coal power stations due to the low CO2 price and cheaper coal imports,” it says. “This is a threat to both Europe’s delivery of domestic decarbonisation and to its international influence.”

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