By Stephen Perkins
Yesterday, the Obama administration announced its Clean Power Plan, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions from power plants in the U.S. Through new rules and regulations, the Obama administration wants to cut emissions over 25% below 2005 levels by the year 2025. However, Congress has not shown the interest in passing such legislation. And in and of itself, Obama's Clean Power Plan will only provide a quarter of the emissions cuts necessary to achieve this goal. Further action is necessary.
A recent study from the World Resources Institute indicates further regulations will need to be implemented by the next President, including cuts from refineries, cements and airplanes among other sources, along with strengthening Obama's policies. The U.S. alone accounts for 17% of the world's emissions and along with China and Brazil will need to step up its game. However, the International Energy Agency estimated that we are currently on pace for a 3 degree temperature increase by the year 2100.
It is clear that both the Democratic and Republican parties are not taking the issue seriously. A candidate for the Green Party nomination Jill Stein has weighed in on the issue, saying that the Clean Power Plan does not go nearly far enough. She comments, "There is a huge cognitive disconnect in the President's move to establish his climate legacy by trimming coal pollution while issuing permits for Artic drilling that spell climate disaster, and quietly facilitating the Enbridge Pipeline that enables the continuing sales of deadly tar sands oil, described as 'game over' for the climate. In addition he has massively escalated fracking, expanded offshore oil drilling, and opened federal lands to plunder for fossil fuels."
Meanwhile, the Green Party is promoting a Green New Deal to deal with the crisis. Under the plan, Stein is advocating a goal and a plan to achieve full green energy by 2030, her campaign said. The plan includes phasing out “polluting and dangerous forms of energy” and energy production such as biomass, fracking, nuclear power, and waste incineration.
But is this plan possible on the basis of capitalism. No. The system will continue to prioritize profits instead of the needs of the human population. So what is the alternative? The Green Party in the U.S. has moved to the left in recent years. Many of its members embrace the ideas of democratic socialism and recognize that ultimately to significantly reduce carbon emissions and global warming, we need to be able to plan the economy democratically and not rely on the vicissitudes of the market. As Greens we need to continue to appeal to working people and youth. People want decisive change on this issue, as last year's massive demonstration in NYC shows. You can get involved in your local Green Party chapter and help elect candidates. Beyond this, Rising Tide is organizing action councils which are promoting direct action and civil disobedience in advance of the Paris Summit. This represents an excellent opportunity to send a message to those in power that we will not be silenced, nor will we back down on this issue.