This One Weird Trick Will Help You Cut Carbon Emissions Overnight

Why Obama’s new climate rules aren’t as tough as they seem.


Just like that, we’re already halfway to our new goal of reducing global warming pollution from power plants.

On Monday morning, President Obama announced a new target for carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants: a 30 percent reduction by 2030. The action isas significant as (and possibly greater than) Obama’s previous steps to significantly upgrade fuel efficiency from cars and trucks, and may help deliver a fatal blow to the coal industry.

But by choosing a baseline year of 2005 for the target 30 percent reduction, the administration lets industry off relatively easy. As of 2011, the United States had already achieved a 9 percent reduction in economy-wide CO2 emissions since 2005, thanks in large part to the boom in natural gas. Carbon from power plants is down 16 percent, according to the draft EPA rule text. States will get to factor in those gains to their 2030 targets. What’s more, much of the coal that would have been burned domestically since then is just getting shipped overseas. U.S. coal exports have nearly tripled since 2006, adding to the heat-trapping pollution that accelerates global warming, even though domestic numbers show a decline.

Read the rest at Slate.

About Climate Desk

The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.