The Washington Post

Obama to reveal plan to combat climate change, aide says

President Obama will outline his plan to address climate change in “the weeks ahead,” an effort that will focus on at least three broad areas in which the administration’s rule-making powers can have significant impact, the White House’s top adviser on energy and the environment said Wednesday.

Two men roll a green globe during a climate change demonstration in Brussels File: Two men roll a green globe during a climate change demonstration in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Heather Zichal’s remarks came as Obama spoke on the subject at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and Secretary of State John F. Kerry published a commentary on the environmental Web site grist.

“Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet,” said Obama, who traveled to Germany Tuesday after attending the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland. “The effort to slow climate change requires bold action. And on this, Germany and Europe have led.”

The president added that “our dangerous carbon emissions have come down. But we know we have to do more -- and we will do more.”

Obama is expected to release his plan to combat climate change no later than July, and some environmental advocates at a forum Wednesday sponsored by the New Republic magazine said they believe it could happen as soon as Tuesday.

Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, was less specific, but she outlined three areas that are likely to be the focus of the administration’s attention: reducing carbon emissions from power plants, improving the energy efficiency of appliances and expanding the development of clean energy on public lands.

The Environmental Protection Agency “is working very hard on rules” covering “greenhouse-gas emissions from the coal sector,” Zichal said at the forum, which was held in the Newseum. She predicted “a lot of important work in this space” under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA is developing rules on carbon emissions for new power plants and then would tackle existing facilities.

“The bottom line is that [Obama] gets it,” Zichal said. “He believes the overwhelming body of scientific evidence” that human activity has fostered climate change.

Obama vowed in his State of the Union address to act on climate change if Congress refused to, but he faces a difficult path with a Republican-controlled House that does not want to move forward, a public more focused on the economy and his own commitment to develop North American energy supplies, including shale gas. That also may mean approving the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring crude from Canadian oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico, a project that has galvanized the opposition of a wide range of environmental groups.

In his commentary, Kerry said the United States “must be the indispensable stewards of our shared planet. What one country does impacts the livelihoods of people elsewhere, and what we all do to address climate change now will largely determine the kind of planet we leave for our children and generations to come.”

He and Zichal both hailed the agreement reached earlier this month between Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to wind down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, chemicals used in refrigerators and air conditioners that are potent producers of greenhouse gases.

Zichal also said that U.S. leaders in Washington need to “catch up” with public opinion on climate change. “Most Americans have stopped debating [whether the planet is warming] and are busy trying to protect their communities” from its impact, she said.

Lenny Bernstein covers health and medicine. He started as an editor on the Post’s National Desk in 2000 and has worked in Metro and Sports.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Republicans debate tonight. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
He says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.