President Obama's Climate Action Plan offers hope for a vulnerable species
In a speech given at Georgetown University last month, President Obama announced a new Climate Action Plan to combat global climate change.
The plan, which can be seen in detail here, consists of a three pronged approach: (1) to cut carbon emissions in the United States, (2) to prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided, and (3) to lead international efforts to address global climate change.
The comprehensive measures that Obama announced will be implemented through his agencies --meaning that the president is effectively bypassing Congress and the inefficiency of the current political climate as it relates to legislating on climate change.
Although the President focused on the human costs associated with climate change in his speech, saying that “as a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act. I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” his effort and renewed commitment to halting the progression of climate change, and bolstering ourselves for its oncoming effects, is welcome and much needed news for the world’s animals as well as humans.
In the 2009 report, Unnatural Disasters, IFAW outlines the severe consequences that climate-change related natural disasters are having on the world’s wildlife, livestock, and companion animals.
Unlike humans, who have the capacity to shelter themselves from disasters, domesticated animals and wild animals alike are often left vulnerable and exposed to dangerous weather conditions. In fact, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is expected to be a leading cause of biodiversity loss in the future.
Fortunately though, when disasters do strike, IFAW has an emergency response team, and trained volunteers and partners around the world, to help rescue animals and relieve suffering. IFAW has responded to myriad of natural disasters, including hurricanes, volcanoes, tidal waves, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires, in the United States and abroad.
Of particular note in the President’s Climate Action Plan is the fact that the President Obama will be implementing the first ever federal regulations on carbon emissions created by power plants. Citing statistics that state that 40% of America’s carbon pollution comes from power plants, and findings made in 2009 by the EPA that carbon pollution is in fact a threat to American health and welfare, the President made clear his support for regulating carbon emissions and changing American domestic environmental policy.
In addition to the domestic changes that the president is making, he called for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas, unless they use carbon capturing technology, and asked that other countries do the same.
Additionally, the President stated that he is directing his administration to engage in free trade negotiations for environmental goods and services in order to help developing countries skip the “dirty phase” of development- allowing them to grow economically without the environmental costs historically associated with industrialization.
Hopefully with this type of political will and commitment to change, species highly vulnerable to climate change like polar bears, corals, and penguins will have a better chance for a future.