Obama to unveil US climate action plan

2014-05-31 14:10
Barack Obama. (File: AFP)

Barack Obama. (File: AFP)

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Washington - US President Barack Obama said on Saturday that his administration's proposals to cut carbon emissions will prevent thousands of asthma and heart attacks each year.

Obama's prediction came during his regular weekly broadcast address as he discussed proposed guidelines designed to "cut down on the carbon pollution, smog, and soot".

The administration will release the guidelines in the coming week.

Some 40% of the country's carbon pollution comes from power plants - and while there are limits on the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and arsenic that the plants can produce, there are no similar national limits for carbon pollution.

'America's first climate action plan'

He described the proposals, which could be unveiled as early as Monday, as "America's first climate action plan", which "cuts carbon pollution by building a clean energy economy - using more clean energy, less dirty energy, and wasting less energy throughout our economy".

In the first year the standards go into effect "up to 100 000 asthma attacks and 2 100 heart attacks will be avoided - and those numbers will go up from there," the president predicted.

The new standards were created with input from the business community, state and local authorities.

Obama dramatised his argument by speaking from the Children's National Medical Centre in Washington, where he visited with children being treated for asthma and other breathing problems.

"Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution - pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change," said the president.

Campaign promises

While Obama gave few specifics on the proposal, the New York Times reported late on Thursday that the president wants to force coal energy plants to reduce emissions and pay for greenhouse gases they do emit through a cap and trade system.

Obama has struggled to fulfil campaign promises to fight climate change as most of his initiatives have been blocked by opposition lawmakers in Congress since 2009.

According to The Times, Obama will use his executive authority to force coal power plants to reduce their emissions by 20%.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  environment  |  climate change  |  pollution

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