Robert Stavins puts proposed carbon plan into perspective

1 min read

The Obama administration has announced one of the most ambitious plans to fight climate change taken by the U.S. government. The proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation aims to cut carbon pollution 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, explains what the plan entails, and the obstacles it faces.

Q: What are the key components of the carbon plan announced by the administration today?

 The regulatory (rule) proposal calls for cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electric power generation sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Electricity generation is responsible for about 38 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions, and about 32 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Q: Do you feel this plan goes far enough to combat the threats posed by greenhouse gas emissions?

Stavins: The proposed policy will be less effective environmentally and less cost-effective economically than the economy-wide Waxman-Markey bill would have been, but given political polarization in Washington and the inability of Congress to approve that more comprehensive and more cost-effective approach, this is the best the administration could do.