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Obama fulfils a campaign promise

President's proposals for combating global climate change seen by Republican opponents as too expensive.
Last modified: 26 Jun 2013 05:15

US President Barack Obama has unveiled a controversial plan to combat global climate change, but his plan is being criticised.

Opponents say the proposals will cost US jobs when the country can least afford it.

Still, it is another attempt for Obama to make good on a campaign promise made years ago.

Obama unveiled his sweeping plan, under blistering heat, at Georgetown University, in Washington.

"This is my plan," he told his student audience. "To lead the world on a coordinated attack against climate change."

To achieve this, US President Obama says he will direct the US State Department to deny approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline if it will increase greenhouse-gas emissions.

It's a pipeline that would carry oil from the Canadian tars sands of the province of Alberta, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Carbon pollution targeted

Obama is also directing the US Environmental Protection Agency to issue rules to cut carbon pollution from power plants and lead global efforts to work with growing economies like China, India and Brazil to encourage greater use of natural gas and nuclear power.

The Obama administration plans to coordinate too with regional US governments in states all across the US to prepare for the impacts of climate change already being felt.

The goal, Obama says, is to reduce carbon emissions to 17-percent below the levels seen in the US in 2005.

"Producing cleaner energy, wasting less, is what's going to get us there. Seas will slowly keep rising; storms will get more severe, based on the science. It's going to take time for carbon emissions to stabilise. In the meantime we're going to need to get prepared," Obama said.

The proposals, though, are already getting pushback from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

They are annoyed the president is using executive orders to push his plans through – that means they don't require Congressional approval.

Many top Republicans are pledging to fight the proposals.

Mindset change needed

Peter Lehner of the National Resources Defence Council says regardless, conservative members of Congress will need to change their mindset.

"The storms, the drought, the flooding, the heat waves, the impacts on people. At certain point, everybody, no matter how conservative a member of Congress, is going to start paying attention," he told Al Jazeera.

Still, what Republicans are paying attention to is America's bottom line, arguing that Obama's plans are too expensive and will cost US jobs.

Indeed, the cost of these programmes are details mostly left out of the president's speech.

It was also short on specifics on just how his climate change proposals will be implemented.

Still, Obama said those details will be drafted in the coming year, with a goal of finalising climate change plans by June of 2015.