US President Barack Obama has laid out a package of measures aimed at curbing climate change, including limits on emissions from power plants.
He also unveiled plans for an expansion of renewable energy projects, improved flood resilience and calls for an international climate deal. Administration officials had earlier rejected the idea of a “carbon tax”. President Obama pledged in his inaugural address in January to act on climate change in his second term.
Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington DC, President Obama said: “As a president, as a father and as an American, I am here to say we need to act.” President Obama mocked critics who contend climate change is not a threat. “I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real,” he said. “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.”
The president said climate change posed an immediate threat, with the 12 hottest years on record all occurring in the past 15 years.
He added: “While we may not live to see the full realisation of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be better off for what we did.”
Most of the president’s agenda can be executed without congressional approval, but some issues are likely to face opposition. The top Republican in the House of Representatives, House Speaker John Boehner, has called the plans “absolutely crazy”. On Tuesday, the president reaffirmed his 2009 commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. Critics say these reductions are too modest, and less aggressive than European Union targets.