When the history books are written, the Clean Power Plan will mark the turning point at which the United States decisively committed itself to confronting climate change – firmly entrenching our nation as a global leader in the fight of this generation.
Enforcing the legal requirements of the Clean Air Act, it obligates states to reduce harmful emissions from power plants that are already changing our climate and exposing our children and their children and so forth to the risks of disruptive climate change.
While giving each state flexibility in the methods that it chooses to reduce emissions, the plan makes tremendous strides in encouraging the development of a carbon price in our nation. Analysts of all political stripes have long agreed that putting a price on carbon is the cheapest and quickest way to reduce emissions.
The trading markets in California and the Northeast have both been successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions costs effectively. As more states join these trading programs or create their own, the resulting pricing of carbon will help to create a financial incentive for innovation in low-carbon energy, which is necessary to reduce the costs of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
What is often missed in calculating the paybacks of climate policies is that reductions in one place produce benefits around the world. Indeed, the biggest payoff from the Clean Power Plan may be the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that it spurs in other nations.
As the worldwide community heads toward the Paris climate talks later this year, the rule provides critical leverage for negotiating carbon emissions reductions from other countries – helping everyone, including us here in the US.
Indeed, the promise of this plan was enough to help produce the historic US–China climate agreement earlier this year. Now, the US will enter these climate negotiations in an even stronger position of leadership and with greater ability to address the problems of climate change…