Nearing a Climate Legacy

The greenhouse gas reductions required by the Obama administration’s proposed rule on power plants will not get the world to where it has to go to avert the worst consequences of climate change. 

But they are likely to be enormously beneficial: good for the nation’s health, good for technological innovation, good for President Obama’s credibility abroad, and, in time, good for the planet and future generations.

The proposed rule — and the importance of this cannot be overstated — signals the end of an era in which polluters could dump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without penalty. It would set new emissions standards for America’s existing power plants, which generate 38 percent of the emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and one-third of overall greenhouse gas emissions. The broad goal is to cut these emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. This means that many of the nation’s roughly 550 coal-fired power plants, which are much dirtier than plants powered by natural gas, will have to close or undergo expensive upgrades.

Read full text in The New York Times