Obama unveils final version of emission cuts plan for US power plants

President Barack Obama unveiled the final version of his plan for extensive emission cuts from US power plants, as he warned afresh that climate change would threaten future generations if was  not checked.

Touting the plan at a White House event yesterday, Obama said the unprecedented carbon dioxide limits were "the single most important step" the US had ever taken to fight climate change. He warned that the scale of the problem was such that, if the world did not get it right quickly, it might become impossible to reverse, leaving populations unable to adapt.

Obama's move sets a challenge to the rest of the world to act urgently as a global summit to finalise a landmark climate change treaty approached at the end of this year.

He said there was such a thing as being too late when it came to climate change.

According to commentators, the sweeping new regulations were also thrusting the divisive debate over climate change centre stage with both parties seeing an opportunity to capitalise on it in the race for the White House.

For the Democrats, global climate change served as a rallying point to energise liberal supporters and project Republicans as out of touch with the majority of US citizens.

Republicans view Obama's executive actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions as burdensome to business and an impediment to job creation, sensitive issues with an electorate concerned over state of the economy.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration gave the struggling US nuclear industry reason to cheer by allowing new reactors to count more toward meeting federal emissions limits.
States can take more credit for carbon-free electricity to be generated by nuclear power plants that were still under construction as they worked to comply with emissions-reduction targets set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The boost for nuclear power was outlined in the administration's final Clean Power Plan released yesterday.

Under the draft plan of last year, the yet-to-be completed reactors were considered as existing units that would not be fully credited for carbon reductions generated in the future after they had started operations. According to the nuclear power industry, that amounted to a penalty on the plants and made the targets of states harder to achieve.

''We tend to view new rules as potentially the first bit of good news for the struggling nuclear industry,'' Julien Dumoulin-Smith, an analyst for UBS, wrote in a research note.