Saturday, January 4, 2014

Nice to Hear Something Positive About Climate Change

(Update below)

Let's say good-bye to coal power plants, please.

Now that the keepers of the DC narrative have zeroed in on how horrible a year it was for Barack Obama in 2013 and hope against hope that the rest of the president's last term is a continual rescreening of The Lion in Winter, it's nice to hear someone else point out that Obama isn't necessarily reading from the script they've handed him.

From New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait, we hear that Obama's poised to make a push in his final term for climate change. It might be a big year in 2014:
The EPA’s new climate regulations are due to come out this June. They will face a certain legal challenge from conservatives. The main driving goal of Senate Democrats’ rule changes last year was to allow Obama to appoint judges to the D.C. Circuit, which will rule on those regulations.
Meanwhile, the State Department today released its Climate Action Report, which reconfirms the administration’s commitment to issue new regulations of existing power plants, and further argues that such a plan could bring the United States into compliance with its international greenhouse gas reductions. Kerry has already negotiated an agreement with China to phase out hydrofluorocarbons. After the EPA’s regulations come out, the next step is for Kerry to negotiate the next international climate accord in 2015. As Brad Plumer correctly notes, with characteristic pessimism, a climate treaty is merely a necessary but insufficient step toward averting catastrophic climate change, with more reductions necessary. But that necessary first step is exactly what Obama is doing everything in his power to take with his remaining time.
It's hopeful news that Obama is quietly cutting deals with the likes of China. As an aside, my hope -- and, conversely, my biggest fear if it doesn't happen -- is that countries like China, and possibly Brazil, Mexico, and India, will want to be good global citizens and advance causes like global warming. The Chinese especially want to win the PR game, if only to protect their capitalist interests while keeping their Communist Party's grip on power. The Chinese prefer their police state to be a quiet one.

In case you missed it, there's a link in Chait's piece to Brad Plummer's WaPo post showing progress toward 2020 emissions goals that we might reach after all.

And among the neanderthal comments to Plummer's post, I found this hopeful link about all the solar panels installed in California in 2013. Nice to have some good news for a change, though this ThinkProgress post does include some bad news, that utility companies, fearful of lost revenue because of residential solar, are fighting back.

We make progress in fits and starts. But it's progress.

Update. It's all about solar this morning. Witness the front page of the NY Times.

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