After implementing new strategies for America’s healthcare system, the immigration system, and the economy, President Barack Obama is now attempting to conquer the next issue: global emissions.
One of the president’s first major moves on the issue was in December 2014. At a discussion on climate change in Lima, Peru, 196 countries agreed to a plan that would lower carbon emissions for all participating nations over the next several years.
The plan, set to be negotiated in full in Paris by the end of this year, is non-binding, meaning nations do not have to participate, as was required in past agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
Obama has vowed to lower America’s emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, with China beginning to curb its emissions starting in 2030.
Critics point out that the Lima deal is quite weak, and allows nations to propose whatever idea they have to cut emissions, even if it is an ineffective plan.
To Obama’s credit, the U.S. pushed for a minimum standard of emissions cuts during the Lima conference. Unfortunately, nations like China and India objected to this, saying their economies were still growing and any restrictions on emissions would hinder the growth process.
In an interview with Vox.com, political scientist David Victor believed that the loosened regulations on the Lima plan would be beneficial to ongoing emissions talks now and in the future.
“The idea that you need a binding treaty — it’s unbelievable that this myth has been propagated for 20 years. There have been lots of serious studies looking at non-binding and binding instruments, and there’s a real trade-off with each approach,” said Victor.
While the president is discussing new deals with the international community, the administration is also campaigning for more funding and tax breaks for green energy corporations.
In his 2016 budget, Obama asked Congress for $48 billion in tax incentives for different clean energy programs to be spread out over the next 10 years. But the proposed plan would increase the nation’s deficit by $42.5 billion over the next decade. At the time, the White House insisted this was the best option for the future.
“These investments support the President’s Climate Action Plan, helping to expand American leadership in the clean energy economy with new businesses, jobs and opportunities for American workers,” said the statement from the White House.
Obama has also supported removing tax breaks and raising taxes for fossil fuels corporations, which have been met with strong opposition from Republicans and Democrats who fear the companies would raise gas prices on all Americans.
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