Rhein on Energy and Climate

On April 17, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a provisional ruling that the concentration of six green house gases in the atmosphere constitute a risk for human health and welfare and that the combined emissions of C02, CH4, N2O and FsH

HFCs from new motor vehicle engines contribute to further concentration of green house gases.

This ruling, which has been carefully prepared during the last two years considering all available scientific evidence, has rightly been applauded as a breakthrough for US climate policy.

If confirmed, it is likely to have a profound impact on the way the USA will tackle climate change in the coming years.

First, it establishes that green house gases fall under the US Clean Air Act, which commits the government to prevent air pollution from causing damage to human health and welfare.

Second, it will become more difficult to continue claiming that climate change does not take place or is due to factors outside human activity. This is bound to weaken the opposition against government action.

Third, the new ruling authorises the EPA to regulate green house gas emissions without prior legislation by Congress. If Congress wants to lose control on a crucial policy area it will avoid this to happen.

But whatever this positive assessment powerful business likely to be affected by government action will try to defuse the message and weaken any future legislative or regulatory action, from stricter fuel emission standards to gasoline taxes or a comprehensive carbon cap and trade system. It is therefore prudent not to expect any rapid action.

Brussels, 21.04.09 Eberhard Rhein

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Comments

  1. Most people think it is up to the governments to stop the progress of climate change. In one hand they are correct but on the other hand it is up to themselves to help the planet and our civilization. If we don’t do it singly then we will fail our future children and grandchildren who will have the unknown forced upon them. Governments and energy companies have started the ball rolling. We are seeing a large increase in renewable energy sources here in the UK. My local energy supplier “Welsh Gas” has been taken over by a larger firm SSE who specialize in creating hydro electricity. If we all work as one we will be able to make a difference. The question is how much of a difference can we make.

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