by Judith Curry
The effects of climate change are already being felt across the nation. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital.
Excerpts from the White House press release on the Clean Power Plan (as cited by WUWT):
The Clean Power Plan is a Landmark Action to Protect Public Health, Reduce Energy Bills for Households and Businesses, Create American Jobs, and Bring Clean Power to Communities across the Country
We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged. The effects of climate change are already being felt across the nation. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Extreme weather events – from more severe droughts and wildfires in the West to record heat waves – and sea level rise are hitting communities across the country. In fact, 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the first 15 years of this century and last year was the warmest year ever. The most vulnerable among us – including children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease, and people living in poverty – are most at risk from the impacts of climate change. Taking action now is critical.
The Clean Power Plan establishes the first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants. We already set limits that protect public health by reducing soot and other toxic emissions, but until now, existing power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States, could release as much carbon pollution as they wanted.
The final Clean Power Plan sets flexible and achievable standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, 9 percent more ambitious than the proposal. By setting carbon pollution reduction goals for power plants and enabling states to develop tailored implementation plans to meet those goals, the Clean Power Plan is a strong, flexible framework that will:
– Provide significant public health benefits – The Clean Power Plan, and other policies put in place to drive a cleaner energy sector, will reduce premature deaths from power plant emissions by nearly 90 percent in 2030 compared to 2005 and decrease the pollutants that contribute to the soot and smog and can lead to more asthma attacks in kids by more than 70 percent. The Clean Power Plan will also avoid up to 3,600 premature deaths, lead to 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children, and prevent 300,000 missed work and school days.
– Create tens of thousands of jobs while ensuring grid reliability;
– Drive more aggressive investment in clean energy technologies than the proposed rule, resulting in 30 percent more renewable energy generation in 2030 and continuing to lower the costs of renewable energy.
– Save the average American family nearly $85 on their annual energy bill in 2030, reducing enough energy to power 30 million homes, and save consumers a total of $155 billion from 2020-2030;
– Give a head start to wind and solar deployment and prioritize the deployment of energy efficiency improvements in low-income communities that need it most early in the program through a Clean Energy Incentive Program; and
– Continue American leadership on climate change by keeping us on track to meet the economy-wide emissions targets we have set, including the goal of reducing emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
KEY FEATURES OF THE CLEAN POWER PLAN
The Clean Power Plan:
– Provides Flexibility to States to Choose How to Meet Carbon Standards: The final rule provides more flexibility in how state plans can be designed and implemented, including: streamlined opportunities for states to include proven strategies like trading and demand-side energy efficiency in their plans, and allows states to develop “trading ready” plans to participate in “opt in” to an emission credit trading market with other states taking parallel approaches without the need for interstate agreements. All low-carbon electricity generation technologies, including renewables, energy efficiency, natural gas, nuclear and carbon capture and storage, can play a role in state plans.
– More Time for States Paired With Strong Incentives for Early Deployment of Clean Energy: State plans are due in September of 2016, but states that need more time can make an initial submission and request extensions of up to two years for final plan submission.
– Creates Jobs and Saves Money for Families and Businesses: Under the Clean Power Plan, by 2030, renewables will account for 28 percent of our capacity, up from 22 percent in the proposed rule. Due to these improvements, the Clean Power Plan will save the average American nearly $85 on their energy bill in 2030, and save consumers a total of $155 billion through 2020-2030, reducing enough energy to power 30 million homes.
– Rewards States for Early Investment in Clean Energy, Focusing on Low-Income Communities: Under the program, credits for electricity generated from renewables in 2020 and 2021 will be awarded to projects that begin construction after participating states submit their final implementation plans. The program also prioritizes early investment in energy efficiency projects in low-income communities by the Federal government awarding these projects double the number of credits in 2020 and 2021.
– Ensures Grid Reliability: In addition to giving states more time to develop implementation plans, starting compliance in 2022, and phasing in the targets over the decade, the rule requires states to address reliability in their state plans. The final rule also provides a “reliability safety valve” to address any reliability challenges that arise on a case-by-case basis.
– Continues U.S. Leadership on Climate Change:Taken together these measures put the United States on track to achieve the President’s near-term target to reduce emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and lay a strong foundation to deliver against our long-term target to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The release of the Clean Power Plan continues momentum towards international climate talks in Paris in December, building on announcements to-date of post-2020 targets by countries representing 70 percent of global energy based carbon emissions.
– Sets State Targets in a Way That Is Fair and Is Directly Responsive to Input from States, Utilities, and Stakeholders:
– Maintains Energy Efficiency as Key Compliance Tool: In addition to on-site efficiency and greater are reliance on low and zero carbon generation, the Clean Power Plan provides states with broad flexibility to design carbon reduction plans that include energy efficiency and other emission reduction strategies.
– Requires States to Engage with Vulnerable Populations:The Clean Power Plan includes provisions that require states to meaningfully engage with low-income, minority, and tribal communities, as the states develop their plans.
Today’s actions also build on a series of actions the Administration is taking through the President’s Climate Action Plan to reduce the dangerous levels of carbon pollution that are contributing to climate change, including:
– Standards for Light and Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Earlier this summer, the EPA and the Department of Transportation proposed the second phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which if finalized as proposed will reduce 1 billion tons of carbon pollution.
– Low Income Solar: The initiative will help families and businesses cut their energy bills through launching a National Community Solar Partnership to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and business that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems and sets a goal to install 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing by 2020.
– Economy-Wide Measures to Reduce other Greenhouse Gases: EPA and other agencies are taking actions to cut methane emissions from oil and gas systems, landfills, coal mining, and agriculture through cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards. At the same time, the U.S. Department of State is working to slash global emissions of potent industrial greenhouse gases, called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
– Investing in Coal Communities, Workers, and Communities: The Plan provides dedicated new resources for economic diversification, job creation, job training, and other employment services for workers and communities impacted by layoffs at coal mines and coal-fired power plants.
– Energy Efficiency Standards: DOE has already finalized energy conservation standards for 29 categories of appliances and equipment, as well as a building code determination for commercial buildings. These measures will also cut consumers’ annual electricity bills by billions of dollars.
– Investing in Clean Energy: In June the White House announced more than $4 billion in private-sector commitments and executive actions to scale up investment in clean energy innovation.
I haven’t seen a lot of reactions yet, but here is a good article: Obama’s Clean Power Plan faces tough legal scrutiny.
Here are some questions I received from a journalist, and my responses:
– How have you seen President Obama¹s messaging on climate change evolve over time?
In President Obama’s first term, climate change was barely mentioned; now we see addressing climate change as the major initiative of his second term. The first rationale he used to build public support for reducing CO2 emissions was an economic argument in context of the social cost of carbon. The second rationale was public health impacts. And more recently he has tried to make a national security argument.
– Do you think Obama¹s messaging about climate change is true to the science?
Well the one thing you don’t hear President Obama mention is how much his proposed emissions reductions will reduce global warming. My recent Congressional testimony cited the following numbers for President Obama’s commitment to the UN: It has been estimated that the U.S. INDC of 28% emissions reduction by 2025 will prevent 0.03oC in warming by 2100. It has been estimated that the U.S. INDC of 80% emissions reduction by 2025 will prevent 0.11oC warming by 2100. And these estimates assume that climate model projections are correct; if the climate models are over sensitive to CO2, then amount of warming prevented will be even smaller.
The economic argument is rather dicey; economic impact models are far more uncertain even than climate models. The social cost of carbon estimates made by the White House require assumptions out to the year 2300 for drastic CO2 reductions to be cost effective.
The public health arguments are even weaker. CO2 has absolutely nothing to do with asthma. Extreme weather events are not increasing with increased CO2; extreme weather events are dominated by natural climate variability. Particularly in the U.S., extreme weather was substantially worse in the 1930’s and 1950’s.
– Do you think reframing ghg and climate change as public health and economic issues are the only way Obama and the EPA could write a rule that would pass legal muster?
I can’t comment much on the legal muster aspect, although I am aware of numerous existing and forthcoming legal challenges. Trying to sell this plan as economic and public health issue is a ploy to develop political will for President Obama’s preferred energy policies.
– Since late last year, it seems like Obama has been talking more and more about climate change, and its effects on health and the economy. Do you think Obama is reshaping the way the public views climate change?
The Republican Party for the most part remains opposed to President Obama’s climate/energy policy. For the first time ever, it appears that climate change and energy policy will be an issue in the forthcoming Presidential campaigns and election. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.