In a dramatic move to lead the world in the battle against the catastrophic air pollution, United States President Barack Obama on Monday unveiled the final version of his plan to tackle greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants.
Foreign agency reports say this is likely to set off a major legal battle between federal environmental regulators and the coal industry.Reuters news agency says the revised clean power plan will seek to slash carbon emissions from the power sector by 32 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, a 9 percent increase over a previous proposal, according to a White House fact sheet.
The regulation is aimed at ushering in a sweeping transformation of the U.S. electricity sector, encouraging an aggressive shift towards more renewable energy, away from coal-fired electricity.Industry groups and some lawmakers from the US states that have relied on coal-based energy have vowed to challenge it in the courts and through Congressional manoeuvres, accusing the administration of a regulatory assault that will drive up energy prices.
But world news analysts say Mr. Obama – apparently aiming at the history books in the final 16 months of his presidency- is likely to go ahead with the clean energy mission, which in the long term, will benefit the US and the world, especially the Third World countries like Sri Lanka, which have been worst hit by air pollution.“My administration believes that the clean power plan is the biggest, most important step we have ever taken to combat climate change,” Obama said in a video posted by the White House.
The plan will be central to the US contribution to the United Nations agreement to tackle climate change. The Obama administration has vowed to play a leadership role in global climate talks in Paris later this year.
Democrat rival Hillary Clinton, who is trying to use the climate issue as a wedge against Republican candidates with her own clean energy challenge to boost the use of renewable power sources such as solar energy, praised Mr. Obama’s plan and said “I’d defend it”The revised rule contains two new measures the administration said will “cut energy bills for low-income families” and drive down renewable energy technology costs, pre-empting arguments by opponents that the plan will be too costly.
In Sri Lanka, Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka has also worked out a comprehensive plan for clean energy and we hope he will get all-party support for this important if not life-saving mission. But we wish to raise questions as to why Sri Lanka is continuing with the disastrous coal power project in Noraichcholai and starting a new one in Sampur, while big powers like the US and China are putting coal in cold storage.
Air pollution has reached ‘unbreathable’ levels. In Colombo and the suburbs, about 60 percent of the people are known to be suffering from respiratory ailments. Last month the Minister invited India’s former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam – a giant in the clean energy mission - to give a series of talks on how to go into creative and imaginative areas and use high technology to find clean or renewable energy sources.
At a time when the world needs people like him most, Mr. Kalam died last week. He suffered a heart attack while giving a talk on this issue.
While the government looks for clean and renewable sources of energy, the people also need to co-operate more than ever before because it is now a matter of life or death. Those who use their own private vehicles need to consider using public transport more often instead of private vehicles.
Thousands of school vans operate every day, causing heavy air pollution and heavier traffic jams. The Government needs to encourage school principals to operate an effective school bus service whereby 100 buses could do the work of 2000 school vans. Besides these, the Government, environment groups and the people need to reflect on the calamity of air pollution and take creative steps to reduce their carbon footprints.
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